Why Targeting a Cure has been such a deeply personal endeavor
By Kelly Close
We’re pleased to report that on May 1 the American Diabetes Association is publishing our book, Targeting a Cure for Type 1 Diabetes: How Long Will We Have to Wait? This new edition represents a revised and updated version of the book that first became available on our website in 2011 – we believe that this will get Targeting a Cure to a larger audience (especially those with iPads, Kindles, and smartphones!). For those unfamiliar with the book, we provide a detailed introduction in this issue’s what we’re reading.
I’d like to reflect on just how this book came to be and what I hope it will mean to the type 1 community going forward. We’ve spent thousands of hours working on Targeting a Cure, making sure it’s the best possible resource for a topic that is often controversial and constantly evolving. I’m immensely proud of it.
In many ways, its genesis is an accident – one of the happiest of my career. Back in 2009, Targeting a Cure began as a research project spearheaded by Lisa Rotenstein, who had just joined diaTribe’s parent company as a summer associate. In addition to her other responsibilities, she wanted to research and write a paper on how stem cells could potentially help treat and perhaps even cure type 1 diabetes. This wasn’t a topic we normally focused on, but Lisa was passionate about it, and she continued work on it even after she headed back to Harvard for her junior year. When she returned, her paper on stem cells had grown so big that fellow contributors Michael Dougan – then a student at Harvard Medical School and now an internal medicine resident at Massachusetts General Hospital – and Ben Kozak – a former diaTribe managing editor – joined the project.
But just as Targeting a Cure began to emerge from what had once been a relatively small research project on stem cells, we ran into two problems. First, two major immunological therapies for type 1 diabetes – teplizumab and otelixizumab, which are both known as anti-CD3 antibodies – failed in their phase 3 trials. This meant a major thrust of our research was now outdated. Second, we realized that we had focused so much on medical approaches that we had overlooked the technological side, including the most promising of potential type 1 diabetes “cures” – the artificial pancreas. Adam Brown, our resident expert on all things related to diabetes technology, took on this massive topic.
It was then that we realized the project had grown into an authoritative guide for patients on where the search for a type 1 diabetes cure actually stood. Since then, we have spent countless more hours ensuring that this is indeed a book worthy of being published, especially by as renowned an organization as the ADA. In particular, we’ve been able to enlist the help of several leading figures in the field of type 1 diabetes research, and their input – both in their writing that appears in Targeting a Cure and in their feedback on our own work – has improved the book immeasurably. The reaction from experts to Targeting a Cure has been very positive, and I’m quite proud of that.
So what are our hopes for Targeting a Cure? Above all, I hope it offers comfort as well as insight to those living with type 1 diabetes and their families, but I also hope it brings healthcare providers up to speed on treatments that are likely to be available in the coming years. Our primary focus here at diaTribe is on currently available treatments, and I believe that is usually the right approach. Admittedly, the topics in Targeting a Cure have at least a decade of research ahead of them (with the notable exception of the artificial pancreas), but they are also vitally important. These topics can so easily be overshadowed by treatments closer to completion or already on the market, but shifting our focus further down the road helps us learn how the research on type 1 diabetes is evolving and improving. And for that, I am grateful for the amazing work that researchers are doing to cure type 1 diabetes, and I hope this book showcases that work. As a patient, it’s inspiring. Happy reading!
Kelly L. Close