Sponsored by the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Institute for Education, Research, and Scholarships (IFERS), EASE T1D (Education, Awareness, Support, Empowerment on Type 1 Diabetes) is the joint effort of two mothers – Debbie George and Michelle Thornburg – who have children with Type 1 diabetes. EASE T1D addresses the misconceptions of Type 1 diabetes and the lack of knowledge on the differences between Type 1 (little to no insulin) and Type 2 (insulin resistance, too little insulin). Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, life-threatening autoimmune disease for which there is currently no cure. Contrary to popular belief, diet and lifestyle are not causes of the disease.
Type 1 Diabetes
Undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes can result in Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) which can lead to serious conditions including coma, brain damage, and even death. With the slogan “No parent should bury their child,” EASE T1D started a petition in May 2015 to encourage physicians, physician assistants, and nurses in California to educate parents on the signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes as well as to check blood glucose levels of children and adults who present flu-like symptoms in an effort to prevent a misdiagnosis and to save lives. This legislation is modeled after Reegan’s Rule.
Reegan’s Rule was started in North Carolina by a mother whose 16-month-old baby girl, Reegan Oxendine, passed away from undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes. Little Reegan had been misdiagnosed several times over a 3-month period before her death. Reegan’s mother, Darice Oxendine, created a legislation to encourage parent education on Type 1 diabetes during well-child care visits from birth to age 5 years old. The first-of-its-kind legislation was signed into North Carolina Law in October 2015.
Advocacy efforts for similar legislation have been happening nationwide. In November 2015, House Resolution No. 569 passed in Pennsylvania due to the efforts of Debbie Healy and her State Representative, Ryan MacKenzie. The resolution encourages physicians to educate and discuss the warning signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes with parents or guardians.
In March 2016, California Senator Richard D. Roth’s measure to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes passed the State Senate on a bipartisan, unanimous vote of 38-0. “I am proud to have authored Senate Resolution 63 and thank my colleagues in the State Senate for joining me in raising awareness of this life threatening disease,” said Senator Roth. “Educating parents regarding Type 1 diabetes is critical to diagnosing and treating this condition early and effectively, helping ensure children and adolescents learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.”
Potential Cures and Treatments
With all the grassroots awareness campaigns spearheaded by concerned parents, some promising solutions are on the horizon. Partnering with Dr. Jane Buckner of Benaroya Research Institute (BRI) at Virginia Mason, Dr. David Rawlings and his team at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute have been studying an immunotherapy approach. “In Type 1 diabetes, a type of immune system cell, called an effector T cell, malfunctions and attacks pancreas cells that create insulin,” Rawlings explained. “Normally, effector T cells attack foreign viruses, not the body’s own cells. With this research, we will edit genes in these cells and change these ‘dangerous’ cells into regulatory T cells, another type of immune cell that regulates an immune system’s response and keeps it from going into overdrive. We expect these gene-edited regulatory T cells, when returned to a diabetic’s body, will stop effector T cells from destroying the body’s insulin-producing cells.”
Clinical trials for new treatments have already begun. In June 2015, Massachusetts General Hospital launched phase II trial of vaccine bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) to reverse advanced Type 1 diabetes. In March 2016, Professor Mark Peakman at King’s College London started testing MultiPepT1De (Multiple beta cell Peptides in Type 1 diabetes) injections on trial participants. The peptides are protein molecules found in the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Researchers hope that the peptides will re-train the patient’s immune system to get rid of its autoimmune disorder.
To pledge your support in raising the awareness and finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes, order your book through this specially tagged link to Amazon.com, and the proceeds will go to support Education, Awareness, Support, Empowerment for Type 1 Diabetes (EASE T1D). Thank you!