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Diabetes Research Institute Reports Advances in 2012

Great advances have occurred in diabetes research over the past decade, often in incremental steps, some which were taken at Mills-Peninsula’s Dorothy L. and James E. Frank Diabetes Research Institute in San Mateo, California. 

Mills-Peninsula’s San Mateo Center houses the Diabetes Research Institute.

“Diabetes is one of the most serious health problems of our time,” says David Klonoff, M.D., medical director of the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at Mills-Peninsula Health Services. “We conduct research to tackle this problem and work toward breakthroughs in care.” 

Throughout 2012, the DRI conducted research studies, participated in hospital initiatives for diabetes care and performed service for Mills-Peninsula, the U.S. government, and the national and international scientific communities. In January, Dr. Klonoff compiled a summary of the DRI’s 12 grants for research conducted in 2012.

“A complex set of social, financial, behavioral and organizational hurdles can slow advances in high-quality diabetes care,” Dr. Klonoff concluded. “Despite these barriers, we are making significant advances translating our clinical research findings into medical practice.

“Last year, we worked with many novel technologies for patients with diabetes.  We are particularly proud that our DRI served as the lead center for the first multicenter outpatient study of the world’s first artificial pancreas product.”

The artificial pancreas system contains a continuous glucose monitor, an insulin pump, a wireless monitor and software which controls insulin delivery.  The device is intended to protect from hypoglycemic brain or heart damage by shutting off insulin delivery for two hours in case a patient has a low sugar level and does not respond to an alarm. 

Mills-Peninsula’s DRI was one of only two research centers in the United States conducting a trial in outpatients of a new type of insulin delivery system.  The device heats the skin which increases local blood flow and speeds up the absorption of insulin that is pumped into the body continuously through a subcutaneous catheter.  Mills-Peninsula’s DRI studied adult patients and Yale-New Haven Hospital studied pediatric subjects. 

Last year, the world’s only non-invasive glucose monitor was approved. It uses light reflected off skin to determine the concentration of glucose in the body.  The first research studies to support regulatory approval of this product were conducted at the Mills-Peninsula DRI, and were mentioned in the regulatory submission document.

In 2012, the DRI performed a trial of a novel long-acting GLP-1 agonist drug for diabetes that is intended for once-weekly use. 

The DRI helped design a protocol for a diagnostics company to assess the analytical accuracy and human factors performance of an outpatient test for self testing of Hemoglobin A1C and was the sole test site for a pivotal clinical trial of this method.  This method allows patients to collect blood specimens at home and ship the specimens to a qualified testing laboratory. 

Additionally, the DRI worked on therapeutic trials of four new types of insulin.  One of them is an inhaled powdered insulin using a tiny delivery device to facilitate absorption from the lungs faster than liquid insulin injected into the skin.  Another insulin type is an injectable liquid that is absorbed faster into the circulation than any currently approved rapid-acting insulin.  The other two are time-release insulins with longer durations of activity than any currently approved long-acting insulin. 

During 2012, DRI conducted three trials of a combination treatment consisting of investigational insulin to lower glucose levels between meals combined with a recently approved novel GLP-1 agonist drug to lower glucose levels after meals with once-daily use. 

About the Dorothy L. and James E. Frank Diabetes Research Institute

In 2000, community donors Dorothy L. and James E. Frank gave a gift of $3 million to the Hospital Foundation and Silicon Valley Community Foundation to found the Diabetes Research Institute. Today, the Dorothy L. and James E. Frank Diabetes Research Institute is a leading Bay Area research institution dedicated to improving quality of life for people with diabetes. Researchers work with health care companies that are developing diabetes management treatments and technologies such as needle-free devices for delivering insulin; safer, more effective oral medications; and less painful, more convenient blood tests.

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