If you were looking for the world’s leading diabetes researchers last week, you would have found them in New Orleans. The American Diabetes Association’s 76th Annual Scientific Sessions—the world’s largest and most comprehensive professional meeting centered on diabetes—took place June 10-14 in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
This annual meeting drew together nearly 16,500 attendees (including clinicians, scientists and educators) from 120 countries for five days of scientific presentations, discussions and analyses of the latest research findings related to this complex disease we call diabetes.
Research shared at this year’s meeting will help further advance scientific understanding of diabetes and shape the future of diabetes management. Here are some highlights from the more than 230 sessions and 3,100 abstracts presented this year.
Presidential Addresses and Announcements from our Association Leaders at Scientific Sessions:
- American Diabetes Association President, Health Care & Education, champions diabetes self-management education: Margaret A. Powers, PhD, RD, CDE, described our ongoing efforts to advocate for diabetes self-management education (DSME) and to expand DSME access during her presidential address Saturday morning. Dr. Powers noted that the United States spends the majority of its diabetes money on complications and hospitalizations and called for a paradigm shift to invest instead on prevention efforts to reduce complications and hospitalizations. She described the benefits and cost-effectiveness of DSME, which has no side effects, and called for advocacy to increase access to DSME. Read more about Dr. Powers’ observations via our “Diabetes Dispatch.”
- American Diabetes Association President, Medicine & Science, makes fiery plea to create a sense of urgency about diabetes: In an inspirational address Sunday morning, Desmond Schatz, MD, called diabetes the “epidemic of the 21st century,” and yet, described it as a disease that is often “invisible”. Relative to many other diseases, diabetes lacks the federal research funding and public support needed to realize significant advances. Dr. Schatz passionately urged attendees to advocate for the public attention and support needed to accelerate research and shift resources to bring the disease out of the shadows and to end the stigma of diabetes. Read more about Dr. Schatz’s powerful speech via our “Diabetes Dispatch.”
- CEO Kevin L. Hagan reveals a new collaboration between the American Diabetes Association and IBM Watson Health: Also on Sunday, the Association and IBM Watson Health announced a long-term collaboration to bring together the cognitive computing power of Watson and our vast repository of clinical and research data. The goal of the collaboration is to develop Watson-powered solutions that enable the diabetes community to optimize clinical, research and lifestyle decisions, and to address important issues that influence health outcomes, such as social determinants of health. Our organizations also aim to build a first-of-its-kind diabetes advisor for patients and caregivers.
Big Research News from Scientific Sessions:
- The Quest to Find New Cell Sources for Beta-Cell Replacement: Scientists unveiled promising research about new sources to replace failed beta cells—the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. If this momentum continues, people with diabetes may one day be able to say goodbye to insulin injections. A symposium at Scientific Sessions presented exciting updates regarding ongoing research for new sources to replace beta cells, including Transplanting Pig Islet Cells into humans and Gene Editing. Read more about how this research can help people living with type 1 diabetes.
- The Glucose-Lowering Drug Liraglutide Lowers Risk for
Cardiovascular Complications, Kidney Disease and Death in People with Type 2 Diabetes: Liraglutide is an injectable GLP-1 agonist that has been shown to safely and effectively lower glucose in a large number of clinical studies. Results released during Scientific Sessions from the Liraglutide Effect and Action in Diabetes – Evaluation of Cardiovascular Outcome Results (LEADER) trial show that liraglutide also can reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, all-cause mortality and diabetic kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes at high risk for cardiovascular The study was published in theNew England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) concurrent with the presentation by John B. Buse, MD, PhD, at Scientific Sessions.
- Research Results Indicate that Automated Glucagon Delivery Reduces Hypoglycemia by 91 Percent at Night: Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) is a common and frightening complication of diabetes. It’s even more concerning when it occurs in the middle of the night, when you or your caregivers are less likely to detect the symptoms. Fortunately, some bright news about preventing hypoglycemia was presented at Scientific Sessions. According to a recent study, delivering small doses of glucagon (a peptide hormone, produced by alpha cells of the pancreas, that raises the concentration of glucose in the bloodstream) through an automated “bionic pancreas” can substantially reduce hypoglycemia in people with type 1 diabetes, especially at night.
These highlights are just a small sample of the incredible things that happened at this year’s event. “We’re really looking forward to driving advancements in research, advocacy, healthcare excellence and total wellness,” said Kevin L. Hagan, CEO of the Association. You can hear more from Kevin about the Association’s projects and some special announcements from this year’s Scientific Sessions by watching the video below.