It’s been a week since my colleagues and I returned from Philadelphia, where the American Diabetes Association hosted its 72nd Scientific Sessions — and my mind is still buzzing with all the exciting news, connections and conversations that emerged. It truly is the largest diabetes meeting in the world, with more than 14,000 clinicians and researchers in attendance and nearly 18,000 total participants, hailing from all 50 states and 111 countries.
I’m no stranger to the Scientific Sessions. I have attended regularly since 1982, but until now always as a physician, presenter and volunteer. It’s a pleasure to now officially be with the Association, to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to pull off such a major event.
This meeting is for professionals, but at its core it’s really about improving the lives of people affected by diabetes — shaping the direction of research, technology and care with an eye toward prevention and ultimately finding a cure for this devastating disease.
The science has changed incredibly in the last 30 years, and every meeting brings about new developments in the fight to Stop Diabetes®. Looking back, I’m amazed at how much more we can do now to help people with diabetes. We understand the disease better, we have far more treatment targets and we’re able to better control many of the complications that back in 1982 were running rampant.
True to form, so much good science was presented in Philadelphia. For example, analyses of the T1D Exchange gave us a “big picture” sense of outcomes for people with type 1 diabetes — to know what’s working and where we need to improve treatment and care.
From the SEARCH trial we learned more about the rise of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in adolescents, an unfortunate trend that we hope to reverse. The TODAY study then looked at the safety and effectiveness of type 2 diabetes medications for young people.
Another study, TINSAL-T2D, explored the potential for a new type 2 treatment with salsalate, one of the world’s oldest drugs used to ease inflammation.
We also learned lots about the safety of long-term use of daily insulin, as multiple studies confirmed no increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, cancer or cardiovascular-related deaths. Not only that, but insulin therapy may delay type 2 diabetes in high-risk patients. This news ought to put many, many minds at ease.
If you want to learn more about the highlights of the Scientific Sessions, I encourage you to watch our video news bureau on YouTube. In this collection of short videos we translate the breaking diabetes news and research, plus offer revealing interviews with key Association leaders.
Who knows what breakthroughs will come forward next June, when we hold the 73rd Scientific Sessions in Chicago. As you might have guessed, planning is already underway!
Robert E. Ratner, MD, FACP, FACE
Chief Scientific & Medical Officer
American Diabetes Association