Scientific Sessions, or “Sci Sessions” for short, is the world’s largest meeting of the best and brightest researchers, health care professionals, and social scientists in the world of diabetes research, prevention, and care that the American Diabetes Association has held annually each year for 81 years (and counting!).

Every year brings something new and different, and thousands of people attend this annual gathering to learn from the latest and greatest in terms of breaking research, the latest diabetes technology, and strives toward the ever-elusive cure.

This year was no different. Although held virtually, some of the Sci Sessions highlights included the following. And in case you missed it, check out the 9 posters and oral presentation exhibited by the T1D Exchange team at this year’s Sci Sessions!

ViaCyte is closer than ever to a functional cure for diabetes

The company ViaCyte is a regenerative medicine company focused solely on developing stem cell therapies to create a functional cure for people with insulin-dependent diabetes. Their presentation, by Manasi Sinha Jaiman, MD, MPH, “Stem Cell-Derived Islet Replacement Therapy (VC-02) Demonstrates Production of C-Peptide in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes and Hypoglycemia Unawareness” showed remarkable results from their phase 2 clinical trial.

People with diabetes who enrolled in their trial showed glucose-responsive insulin production from implanted pancreatic stem cells. The significance of the findings is huge: the average person’s time in range (TiR) increases from 54% to 88% with corresponding HbA1c levels dropping from 7.4% to 6.6%.

There were no serious adverse health effects on participants during the duration of the study.

Individuals in the trial were taking immunosuppressants during the duration of the study, but the company is recruiting volunteers for their next iteration of the study, which will determine if the encapsulated stem cells can work in people without the need for immunosuppressant therapy.

This is excellent news for those of us sitting on the edge of our seats for a cure, which ViaCyte thinks we may see within the next few years.

“Patients with T1D are constantly working to improve their time in range, and ViaCyte’s cell replacement therapy has significant promise to allow patients to achieve better health outcomes without the requirement for continuous monitoring and daily insulin,” said Howard Foyt, MD, PhD, FACP, Chief Medical Officer at ViaCyte.

Most people with diabetes in the US aren’t meeting glucose targets

Richard M. Bergenstal, MD led a recent study looking at the continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems of over 500 people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the United States to determine how many are achieving high (recommended) percentages of time in range (TiR). He also wanted to know what percentage of people are falling below 55 mg/dL (severe hypoglycemia) less than 1% of the time.

He analyzed data between 2016 and 2020, and did not interfere with the diets, exercise routines, or lifestyles of any of the study participants.

Time in range is a relatively new concept and applies mostly to those who use CGM technology. It is calculated as a percentage of the time that a person’s blood glucose levels stay between 70 mg/dL and 180 mg/dL but can depend on your individual goals and life circumstances.

The higher the percentage, the better the management, and providers are now using this tool in conjunction with the standard HbA1c to get a more realistic picture of one’s diabetes management and where they can make improvements.

Most providers recommend a person aim for 70% TiR or even higher.

The results of this study were jarring: Only 39% of adults in the United States are meeting their time in range goals, and only 32% of adults are meeting both their time in range goal AND are less than 55 mg/dL less than 1% of the time.

The difference between people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, however, is even more striking with only 35% of people with type 1 diabetes meeting their TiR goals versus nearly 53% of people with type 2 diabetes meeting their TiR goals. The study also showed that people with type 2 diabetes don’t struggle nearly as much with severe hypoglycemia, either.

The study proved that there is still a crucial need to continually work to improve the quality of life for people living with diabetes.

Dexcom yet again proves crucial to diabetes management

Dexcom, the world leader in CGM systems, had a remarkable 15 poster presentations at Scientific Sessions, showcasing their latest research that real-time CGMs are crucial to proper diabetes management.

“Year over year it is remarkable to see the growing body of research and data that continues to show CGM is central to optimal diabetes management, regardless of how a person administers insulin,” said Jake Leach, chief technology officer at Dexcom.

Various poster presentations even made the case for CGM usage for people with type 2 diabetes who are not on insulin, in-patient hospital settings, and even for general health and wellbeing in a broader population.

This is all very exciting news, as people with diabetes anxiously await the release of Dexcom’s newest CGM, the G7. Some new benefits and features unique to the G7 will be:

  • Smaller sensor applicator and transmitter (all-in-one and disposable)
  • 30-minute warm-up
  • 60% smaller than G6
  • Interoperability with insulin delivery systems (like hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps)
  • Best accuracy for dosing decisions (99% of readings are safe for insulin treatment decisions)

“Initial clinical data has only strengthened our conviction that Dexcom G7 will build upon the high accuracy standard already established by our G6 CGM system,” said Jake Leach, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Dexcom. “The G7 is a completely redesigned CGM; our users will get a whole suite of new features that we believe will enhance the customer experience that has become synonymous with Dexcom.”

While all of Scientific Sessions was educational, exciting, and inspiring, these highlights really drive the point home that better technology, improved blood glucose levels and health outcomes, and a functional cure are in our future. And we can get onboard with that!