Friday, June 12, 2015

ADA 2015: Big Ideas, Small Revolutions

The ADA Scientific Sessions this year was a much busier experience for me as a nonprofit leader than it ever was for me as a participant, but the busy did not overshadow the buzz in the air over the innovation and research taking place in diabetes this year.

At times, I know we patients struggle with the acronyms and the drug class names (good lord, the drug class names), but one of the most interesting threads woven through this year's Sci Sessions for me as a patient was the exciting future of combination therapies of those crazy acronymic (is that a word I've just made up?) drugs - particularly SGLT-1/SGLT-2 combos and GLP-1/basal insulin combos. Combo therapies could make the tedious task of counting out pills or suffering multiple pens/needles or juggling complicated medication schedules easier for patients to manage their regimen so that they can meet targets and ultimately DO better while, at the same time, allowing patients an assortment of options they can tailor to fit their individual health goals. We are NOT a one-size fits all community.

Speaking of size, the talk of ADA 2015 in the type one market were the small startups with big dreams. Both Bigfoot Biomedical and TypeZero Technologies were among those representing the up-and-coming single hormone artificial pancreas (AP) solutions breaking ground in the space. What was once aspirational is quickly becoming operational! It may very well be that the next generation of innovation will come from new Davids rather than known Goliaths in the device industry.

AP solutions aren't one size fits all either though and it's glucagon's turn to evolve. The Bionic Pancreas team and their dual hormone (insulin plus glucagon) AP system continue to drive the conversation into the 21st century while companies like Locemia are striving to make glucagon a simpler, stabler hormone for us to administer, presenting data this week on the efficacy and safety of their nasal glucagon powder in pediatric patients. The "red kit" as we know it may someday sit behind glass in the museum of clunky diabetes delivery.

Some of the most interesting programs I learned about at ADA this year, however, are two programs that I feel they are all too quiet about - Community Days and Diabetes is Primary. In partnership together, Sanofi and the American Diabetes Association offer these two impressive outreach programs to the cities they visit each year for the Sci Sessions, bringing the benefits and resources of the sessions to those in the community. Community Days provides the hotel hospitality staff who serve the 18,000 guests descending on the city with time to attend organized events that educate them about their health and nutrition. As most diabetes care is practiced in the domain of the PCP, the second program, Diabetes is Primary, invites thousands of primary care physicians in the area of the conference to come take advantage of the vast resource in their own backyard to learn the latest research on diabetes for educational credit. I love the idea that these companies and organizations consider the populations of the big conference cities we invade when we come for these events because it directly addresses the issue of access - a particular pain point in the diabetes advocacy community.

Speaking of advocacy, I hope you are fired up and ready to learn for Diabetes Hands Foundation's 2nd MasterLab summit, coming up in just 3 more weeks. We are hard at work on a program that will inspire and empower you to become a more effective advocate. Register here and we will see you on July 7-8 in Orlando, FL.

And as for Sci Sessions...see you at 76!

Disclaimer: American Diabetes Association granted me a press pass and complementary registration for the 75th Scientific Sessions as a writer from All views are my own and do not represent the opinions of ADA or my employer, Diabetes Hands Foundation, both of which are unaffiliated with this blog. The media access and conference registration did not include travel or lodging costs, those being absorbed by my current employer, Diabetes Hands Foundation.

No comments:

Post a Comment