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Winter and the BUGS

Autoimmune diseases such as MS, Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis all have the basic problem where the individual’s immune system turns against itself as opposed to fighting the outside world. Something beyond the genetic set up is needed to trigger the disease and so far, celiac disease (or gluten intolerance) is the only autoimmune disease where we know what the trigger is – gluten. There are about 100 different autoimmune diseases, and in the US alone, about 50M people suffer from one or more of these conditions.

Type 1 diabetes is also an autoimmune disease, but in contrast to the ones I mentioned above, the treatment is rather different due to the progression of the disease. When a person is diagnosed with T1D, their insulin-producing cells are almost already all gone. Although scientists have shown that the human pancreas may have some regenerative capacity under certain conditions (obesity and pregnancy for example), we are not leveraging that in today’s clinical practice since there is no drug approved for that purpose yet, and we have not come up with a safe way to combat the immune system at the same time. That is the very issue with T1D, it is a constant battle between the body’s own immune system which is trying to destroy insulin-producing cells, and the lack of the body’s regenerative capacity in the pancreas. This battle can be distorted for years, and that is why some people are diagnosed as toddlers while others in their 40s! When one is diagnosed as an older individual, most often the disease is less aggressive, and perhaps these individuals still have some cells left and thus some endogenous (their own) insulin capacity.

Back to the contrast with other autoimmune diseases – in diabetes the treatment is to replace the missing hormone, insulin or to enhance the effects of insulin, while in other autoimmune diseases the treatment is to reduce the autoimmune attack since the tissue that is being destroyed often is regenerated in between flares. For example, in Crohn’s disease, the intestine is the target, but during long periods of time, there are no symptoms at all, and the goal of course is to maintain that status for as much time as possible without impacting other functions of the immune system.

So what are the risks now that we are entering the winter months? Well, for one, the flu season is upon us, children are gathering inside rather than outside, incubating their germs and spreading them more easily. There is no good scientific episode to show that the cold weather would trigger virus and bacterial infections, but common sense still says we seem to get sicker when we are cold. A person with an autoimmune disease, who needs daily medication to inhibit the immune system from destroying an organ system or tissue, is more vulnerable to catching and developing a more serious infection. The bigger problem is when the individual has caught an infection, and it spreads, since the best way to limit the damage is to improve one’s own system, but by doing this, the autoimmune disease is less restricted and can cause a flare.

My personal situation is further complicated by two organ transplants and the medication I am taking to reduce the risk of rejecting those organs. When I develop an infection, my doctors often reduce the amount of immune suppressing medication I take to allow for my own system to get rid of the infection in addition to quickly determining what the agent is that we are dealing with so that the right kind of anti-infective medication can be put in place. Targeting the virus, bacteria or parasite correctly and quickly is of utmost importance, and today’s analytical equipment is quite sophisticated but it still often takes days for the final result. Prior to having that, the doctors often prescribe some super duper antibiotic to kill off a majority of bugs, and in my case, that lead to opportunistic bugs taking over last year and three bouts of clostridium difficile ensued. When the immune suppressants have been reduced, I face two major threats, one being rejecting my kidney and pancreas on the basis of foreign bodies inside my body, and the second one my own autoimmunity may flare up and start attacking the new pancreas, like it did my first one.

My advice to anyone with an autoimmune disease, or with an organ transplant, is to try to avoid getting sick! Easier said than done, and one cannot live one’s life inside a bubble, but there are a few simple precautions:

1: avoid interacting with large groups of people (especially young children) inside during the winter months

2: wash your hands after using public transportation and before having food or drinks

3: do not eat any raw foods in restaurants, including pre-cut fruits

4: ask for water without ice when traveling to exotic places

5: if someone at work or in school is sick, do not interact with them

6: as soon as you start feeling a cold coming on, take precautions such as hydrate, rest, and if you have a temperature, seek medical advice asap

7: make sure you have taken the flu shot and any other vaccinations appropriate in the locale you are residing

 

 

Diabetes and Tennis:When I Was First Diagnosed

I used to play tennis every day and often more than 1 hr each day – I loved the game and I was very good at it. This was before I was diagnosed with diabetes – after that, I never won again and I lost my love for the game completely.

I don’t think diabetes is 100% to blame for this, but probably at least 50 percent. When I was diagnosed, the summer of 1989, I had just reached the finals of a large national tournament in Sweden, and even though I lost in the final, I had done very well, especially since I had suffered from tonsillitis three times during the spring preceding this event, and I had been seriously injured the year before.

However, after my diagnosis I lost my confidence in my body. I had never had such a failure in my life and here I was, at 17 years of age (I spent my bday in the hospital getting trained on injections and glucose monitoring), feeling like I was suddenly disabled. Little did I know that the complications they warned me about during those first few weeks with diabetes would be a reality less than 20 years later and that I would go through two transplants before I turned 40!

Tennis represented so much to me as a young person, I spent most of my free time either playing tennis, getting to tournaments, working out to play better or preparing ahead of games. I loved going to my club and I even loved hanging out after tennis, relaxing and feeling the work-out in my body and if I had won, feeling strong and confident.

I guess the closest to this feeling in my current life, is when I present at conferences or when I have an important business meeting. I have the same feeling of anticipation, preparation and then during the presentation I have a high – triggered by endorphins and I am on top of the world for the duration of the event. The problem is coming down afterwards.  Being in the zone is all and well, but afterwards I feel empty, anxious and even sad.

As a diabetic, sometimes these events could be affected by my disease. For example, if my blood sugar was running low and I had to go up on the stage for a presentation, I would need to quickly eat something to avoid the risk of passing out and the absolute certainty of presenting poorly because my brain did not have enough sugar to work with. When I was high, I could also feel it, since I would get slower in my thoughts and especially in my reasoning. I would rather be high than low, and my solution to avoiding this roller coaster was to always keep myself slightly high, but not high enough to be slow, blurry-eyed or lethargic.

After getting my pancreas transplant in January of 2010 I have not experienced any of these feelings and it is such a relief and such an advantage! I sometimes say that I did not know how hard it was living with diabetes before I got a pancreas transplant and realized what normal life is supposed to be and how good I felt. Achieving that feeling for everyone with diabetes is our goal, and while we pursue the cure, we need to identify a range of products that can help people with daily life.

I hope that I will get back to tennis one day, but for some reason, tennis more than any other sport is linked to my life before diabetes that I lost. I know that I have a new chance, and should be incorporating tennis into my life, but it is easier for me to exercise otherwise without ever feeling that diabetes, transplants and age have had a negative effect on my performance!

Real Talk With Dave: Hopeful For A Cure

We all have a desire to be cured of this monster of a disease, Type 1 Diabetes. Since the day we were diagnosed, that has been our number one wish when we blow out the candles on our birthday cake or when we play that imaginary game of being asked what our three wishes from a Genie would be. We constantly dream of having our “cure day”. Until that glorious day though, all we have is hope. And great things can come from this hope. Like the support we get from each other in the community that helps lift each other up. Diabetes has several ups and downs throughout the day that are constantly thrown at us from each moment to the next, but we have our hope to hold onto.

type one diabetes personal stories

Just imagine the day a cure for Diabetes is announced! No more needles, no more blood, no more fear, and no more out of whack blood sugar systems. What a day that will be! I can remember a time in my life when I would constantly have low blood sugars (sometimes 6-8 times a day) and it was getting a little bit out of hand. I would constantly think to myself  how it was like I was living from one low to the next, trying to get my blood sugar levels high enough to go for a short walk before crashing again, going for a little drive before I had to pull over and treat my low, and so on. Those are just some of the many examples that I cannot wait to be done with. I don’t know if I will ever see a cure in my lifetime for Type 1 Diabetes, but I hope and pray all the time for this day to come where not only me, but all the millions of other Diabetics can be free. Free of the things that once tied us down.

I would love to be able to tell my children someday how I had Diabetes, not that I still have.

I would like to tell them how I muddled through a terrible disease and made it out alive and well. And I would also love to show them that life gets hard at times, real hard, but through positivity and determination, anything is possible.

Now I know the thought of a cure is just a dream to some people, but it could be closer than we think. We have insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) now-a-days that provide convenience and luxury in T1D management, making it a whole lot easier than it used to be, so I think we are getting there. A cure is coming!

Diabetes presents itself as big and scary from time to time, but at some point or another, we each find our niche in managing our own uniqueness with T1D. Some have difficulty with high blood sugars, some the complete opposite, but when we figure out what it is that we truly need to do in order to be healthier, we can lead a pretty normal life. However, on the days when Diabetes is on full attack mode and is constantly coming down on us like a meteor shower with low after low, ripped pump site after massively high blood sugars, and whatever else your Diabetes may have to offer when it decides to (I’ll leave it up to your own imagination), it may seem tough to continue and push through. I have come home countless times feeling completely overwhelmed and discouraged, feeling like I couldn’t continue to battle with my Diabetes anymore, but a new day came and I would fight like never before, making the next day better than before, brighter than I have ever seen, and we all have that in us. We just need to find our inner confidence and determination in owning our T1D in the time being while we patiently wait on a cure.

Days will come and go when it doesn’t look possible. T1D is not your fault one bit. You didn’t ask for it, you didn’t do anything wrong, and you should never feel bad or ashamed for having Diabetes. Nature just took it’s course and decided to select people at random and allow them to have Diabetes, but only those who were selected were the ones who were capable of battling their way through all the highs and lows (literally and figuratively) T1D has to offer. We are brave, we are strong, and we are going to find a cure, one way or another. This is going to happen!

 

So since we’ve established that a cure is coming, begin to ask yourself: What does your cure day look like?

 

Live well,

Dave

The Importance of Patient Entrepreneurs

Lately, there has been a change in the approach of how people are perceiving diabetes and the people living with the disease. 

When I was diagnosed with T1D in 1989, diabetes was considered a very serious disease. One changed behaviors, got on insulin, and tried very hard to avoid going high in blood sugar to avoid complications. Nowadays, the attitude is that we live with the disease and can be like everyone else! ‘The disease should not limit us, and if we use advanced gadgets we can live beyond the disease without thinking about it too much.’

As you can imagine, this attitude does not work with the chronic and progressive nature of the disease.

Despite all technology, we cannot live a life without thinking about diabetes all the time if we want to stay healthy.

This is the problem with today’s approaches and the spirit in which we are teaching our newly diagnosed friends and family. There are definitely individuals who, like me, want to understand every aspect of diabetes to treat it better and to find a cure for everyone. Though the larger group of people just want a life in which they can focus on family, work, hobbies and everything but diabetes!

So what can we do? The over ambitious few will always pursue additional detail, perfect blood sugars and the financings of products that make the control a little bit better with a lot of extra effort. Even I, being an MD, PhD, and life sciences executive for almost two decades, could not manage the technology day in and day out. I ended up attempting to stay stable, but was a little too high most of the time (which led to kidney and eye complications). So how can someone with a busy life who is less tech savvy use all these new devices?

For the people with little time to themselves, lack of access and training, we must find other motivators and ways to achieve control until we find real cures.

There are great examples of success using this principle – John Sjölund created a cap for insulin pens that tells the patients when and how much insulin was dosed; Jennifer Ross is responsible for Bemixed, a sugar-free, organic and delicious cocktail mixer; Jeffrey Brewer leads Bigfoot with a team of people motivated beyond money to create a closed loop that removes the burden of dealing with diabetes; Matt Loper motivated by his family’s plague with T2D is creating an incredible based adherence plan that helps patients improve their health and thus reduces costs for insurers and providers. Finally John Crowley’s career has been motivated by his children’s struggle with Pompe’s Disease, a rare neuromuscular disorder, to found Novazyme Pharmaceuticals in his quest to find a cure.

At Lyfebulb, we want to create an environment where leading drug/device/biotech and Healthcare IT, as well as consumer companies, listen to innovators and leaders from the patient communities – not just for marketing and advocacy but for innovation and strategy.

Patient Entrepreneurs are future leaders in their own space – they are motivated by their personal curse that they have turned into a passion and an opportunity to create wealth and power.

What could be better from a socioeconomic perspective than to move the cost from the victim to revenue generated by a patient leader?

As people living with diabetes, it should never be a sacrifice to modify our diets or change our behavior – it is an investment in our future! Take charge of your health and future – become or start supporting patient entrepreneurs!

How Diabetes Changed My Life

At the age of 16, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It was the worst day of my life.

I was devastated. At the time I was a competitive tennis player in Sweden and had represented my country on several occasions in the European and World championships. I was in the best physical shape of my life, and did not like losing. That made this diagnosis worse, since I could not accept or even understand how I could be punished like this. My lack of acceptance made everything more difficult. My two younger sisters, Anna and Lisa, who were 6 and 14 at the time, were supportive but in shock. I was their big sister who had always been strong, and now I was in the hospital. I would have to inject insulin multiple times daily, change my diet, and face the risks of short and long term complications from a disease we did not know much about.

Upon diagnosis, I made the decision to dedicate my future to discovering a cure for diabetes.

I would go to medical school as soon as I graduated from high school. I got accepted to the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden where I graduated with both MD and PhD degrees after only six years. My research was, of course, in diabetes, but I kept a promise to myself not to let diabetes affect my behavior or require others to adjust to my needs. To do so I kept my diagnosis a secret from everyone except my family and doctors. Even my best friends in high school and my med school classmates had no idea that I suffered from the condition. When I stood before more than 100 people in the grand auditorium at the Karolinska Institute to defend my thesis, the only person outside of my family who knew that I was diabetic was my advisor, Professor Kerstin Brismar. This was because she also happened to be my medical doctor.

After almost 20 years with diabetes, in the spring of 2007, I found myself working long hours for a Scandinavian venture capital fund. I had severe anemia, uncontrolled hypertension and with diabetic macular edema in both eyes. I was not yet 35 years of age, but my body was telling me that if I did not change my behavior, I would not make it to 40. I was forced to “come out” as a diabetic to my partners at the Fund, to my friends and to the industry I was working in. I needed health care and I needed a complete reset of my body. I spent the summer not working, something which had not happened since high school (even as a child I would be busy with tennis tournaments during the summer) and started thinking about my future.   The decision to go to medical research and “find a cure for diabetes” which I had made as a 16 year-old newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic, had been modified over the years. I stopped everything to look back at my years in finance and other environments that did not allow me to focus on the long term because each day was consumed by its own report card. A situation like that is not healthy for anyone, but for someone with a chronic disease, and especially someone ashamed of that disease who does not let anyone help, it is disastrous.

I made the firm decision to work in diabetes and to make an impact for others while allowing my body to take center stage and try to fix what was damaged.

At Johnson & Johnson I was given an opportunity to lead what was called the Metabolic Taskforce where I was exposed to all existing products in the category as well as any new products being considered by the pharma, device and consumer divisions.

Unfortunately, the damage to my body had gone too far and I faced the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. My eyes were healed but I had lost my entire peripheral vision and my night vision, but at least I was not blind. The kidneys were more difficult to fix, but my family came through and I received a kidney transplant from my father in March of 2009. 

He saved my life and gave me the motivation to be healthier and to make an impact.

Nine months later I received a whole organ pancreas transplant and my life took an incredible new turn – no more diabetes. I did not realize how bad I had felt for so long – it had been twenty years of insulin injections, highs and lows and constant monitoring. Even worse was the fatigue and the sense of vulnerability I had when on insulin. Now I feel free and ready to enjoy life and plan for the future, which poses new interesting dilemmas for a person like myself, who has lived day by day! Of course there are risks and issues with my new situation. To avoid rejection of my kidney and pancreas, I must take immune suppressants for the rest of my life. Those drugs increase my risk of developing certain kinds of cancer and limit my ability to fight infections. However, I am strong, happy and, importantly, I am surrounded by people I respect, and I am doing what I love on a daily basis!

In this blog, I will be relating parts of my story in more detail as well as how I see the future and what we are doing to try to impact it for everyone. I am not alone in my story – there are so many like me who are struggling with chronic disease. When I founded Lyfebulb together with Riccardo Braglia, Helsinn Group Vice Chairman and CEO and Steve Squinto, PhD, co-founder of Alexion and Venture Partner at Orbimed in 2014, it was with the broad goal to address the gaps I had experienced during my personal journey with diabetes and as a business woman and medical scientist.

My goal for Lyfebulb is to create a global organization that is patient-centric and functions as the voice for a larger population of patients, who have until this point been vulnerable and receptive rather than strong and proactive. We feel that it is patients’ responsibility and opportunity to be innovators, teachers and influencers.

Above all, I want to showcase individuals, who like myself, are not accepting of the role of a passive patient, but willing to take on the challenge of changing the future for themselves and others living with chronic disease.

Why We Are Launching a Diabetes Innovation Fund – T1D Capital by Lyfebulb

Lyfebulb, the company I co-founded with Dr. Steve Squinto, Venture partner Orbimed and Riccardo Braglia, CEO Helsinn, three years ago, is about to launch an early-stage Diabetes Innovation Venture Fund focused on breakthrough opportunities in autoimmune, insulin-dependent diabetes and other associated autoimmune diseases. Our goals are to deliver a superior return on investment and to remove the burden of autoimmune diabetes.

With Lyfebulb, we have created a community focused on chronic disease, and we are relentless in articulating the voice of the patient to bring forward better products, improve compliance and put pressure on industry to listen to the consumer.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is my particular problem, but I am not alone.

There are millions of people like myself, and even more who care about someone who has the disease. Most people have heard about diabetes, but many ask me, “isn’t this just a disease of the Western world, a disease that if we only ate better and exercised more, we would not have to worry about?” Most people perceive diabetes to be a less ”severe” disease than for example cancer.

Here are some facts:

  1. There are 29M people with diabetes in the US, and another 86M with pre-diabetes, of which 90% are Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), a disease of inflammation and insulin resistance, which initially can be treated with diet, exercise, and oral medications, is often diagnosed mid-life and in people who are overweight. 5-10% are T1D, a disease of the immune system, always requires insulin injections, and is most often diagnosed in young people
  2.  Both T1D and T2D present with elevated blood sugar levels, and are leading causes for blindness, kidney failure, amputations, and increase the risk for stroke and heart disease several-fold, are the 3rd leading cause for death in the US, and accounts for over $250B/year in spending. The burden T1D has on society, is disproportionate to its prevalence vs T2D

How has industry and the public reacted to these data? Well, the large and growing numbers of T2D patients have attracted multinational companies, scientists and media to spend large sums of money and time on solving the T2D problem. The reality is that the numerous drugs available for T2D are both insufficient and ineffective to keep people in range. There is a very large behavioral component to T2D, and without human as well as electronic help, patients do not take their drugs, do not change their diets, and do not exercise more. 

In my opinion, in T2D, we should focus more on incentive models to keep T2D patients in control and let the drugs that are on the market become easily accessible and less expensive. This brings about a shift for the pharmaceutical industry, which historically has led with an expensive new drug and cared less about the behavioral programs that must go with them. New models are emerging, with companies such as Fitscript (exercise), Wellth (employer-driven behavior modification) and Fit4D (force amplifying nurses to add the human touch), as well as companies, such as Livongo and Glooko, where the sugar levels are explained to patients and prompts are given so that people have a diabetes guide with them all the time. Community-based support is another way to go, and here OneDropToday has a great model, where the glucose strips are unlimited and the support comes from fellow patients.

For T1D, the body is no longer making insulin. Treatment may improve with behavior modification, but this is far from enough. Although insulin saves lives, it is not a Cure and causes major side effects such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), weight gain, and cannot completely remove the risk of late-stage complications such kidney failure and heart disease. No one wants to think about their disease all the time, but for a person with T1D that is the only way to stay in control. Some people argue that this control forces them to change their life for the better, allows them to focus on health, but I don’t think anyone would say no to a break from diabetes management if offered.

Companies such as BetaBionics and Bigfoot, as well as large companies such as JNJ, Dexcom and Medtronic, are working on fully automated systems that combine insulin dosing with glucose measuring, which theoretically could remove some of the burden of disease from patients with T1D and keep them safe. This has been called the “artificial pancreas project”, an effort that has been driven hard by the JDRF, and now has triggered multiple financial rounds and start-ups.

This is great for the T1D space, but it still is not a Cure.

I have already mentioned how the two types of diabetes are different. Now let us compare T1D to other autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Addison’s disease, MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). In all these diseases, the immune system attacks part of “self”, i.e., part of the person’s own body, instead of attacking only foreign objects such as virus, bacteria, parasites or even transplants.

The difference between some of the autoimmune diseases, such as RA, IBD and MS, vs T1D, is that they have apparent relapsing remitting symptoms, i.e., the person gets worse and then better again, since the cells that are being attacked manage to regenerate. Over time, there is often a progressive nature to the diseases, but with new drugs, there may be some recovery and even fewer episodes going forward.

In T1D, the beta cells seem to be completely lost and except for a period in the early stages of T1D, often described as the honeymoon, one can never get off insulin. New studies, including those of JDRF’s nPOD project (led by Mark Atkinson), for example, have shown that we may have been wrong in many of our beliefs about the disease. For example, the amount of loss at diagnosis is much more variable than one thought. It is still difficult to show the dynamic nature of the disease since biopsies of the pancreas are not done readily.

What is next, I believe there are at least 3 main scenarios for T1D, where we could complement insulin therapy, even if we cannot Cure the disease immediately. A prerequisite for these scenarios is the earlier diagnosis of T1D. It is already possible to measure autoantibodies in healthy individuals and accurately diagnose beta-cell autoimmunity. It is possible to predict the decline of beta-cells and give us a timeline for the full-blown disease. In certain geographies, this method is already in place, for example in Southern Sweden led by Professor Ake Lernmark, Lund, and through TrialNet in the United States, led by Professor Carla Greenbaum in Seattle. Screening school children for beta cell autoantibodies has began in Colorado. The aim is to diagnose T1D at an early stage to have a better chance to develop preventive measures.

  1. Supplementing beta-cells with either embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells or transdifferentiated cells (autologous cells that have been converted to beta cells in the laboratory). The proof of concept has been shown through transplantation of cadaveric beta cells and pancreata, which renders the patient free of insulin. That option is not a viable one for all people, due to the requirement of immune suppressants, limited supply of beta-cells and pancreata. However, there are a number of laboratories and companies working on alternatives: Viacyte being the leader in embryonic stem cells, with academics such as Professors Doug Melton (Harvard), Bob Langer (MIT) and Camillo Ricordi (Miami) following. Orgenesis (ORGS) is a public company that is about to test its transdifferentiated (liver) cells in clinical trials.
  2. Addressing the immune system through combination therapies that halt the attack before a majority of cells are gone. This pathway can also be used in established diabetes to allow for lower insulin doses and thus an easier managed disease through reduced glucose volatility. There have been some failures here, but the field has moved forward through these experiences. Thought leaders include Professor Jeff Bluestone, UCSF, Professor Kevan Herold, Yale, and Professors Lernmark and Atkinson. Interesting approaches also include Dr. Alan Lewis’ DiaVacs and Professor Santamaria’s Parvus. We should learn from oncology and not be afraid of combination therapies!
  3. Through above mentioned studies of nPOD pancreas, it has been shown that beta-cells might be subject to waves of immune attack (much like other autoimmune diseases), with the time of diagnosis being a period of pronounced destruction. Beyond nPOD, studies of human islets suggest that regeneration of beta cells appears possible, in that at least three drugs have been found capable of inducing such actions. Professors Mathias Hebrok, USCF, Klaus Kaestner, U Penn, and Doug Melton have all ventured into this space.

Taken together, novel understanding of the disease pathology and the comparison to other autoimmune disease, suggest with earlier intervention and the right drugs (or cell therapy), we may be able to prevent the absolute dependency on insulin and even Cure T1D, and insulin-dependent T2D.

An absolute must, is to continuously improve our understanding of the human immune system. We need to explain why and how our immune system gets the signal to attack our own beta cells. It will be necessary to study people not rodents. This is where disease foundations such as the JDRF and government (the NIH) are doing incredible funding work.

I have a personal interest in making sure that we find a Cure for this disease in the not too distant future.

I had a pancreas transplant that “Cured” my T1D in 2010, and since then I have not dosed insulin. However, I am on very toxic immune suppressant drugs that have already caused several serious infections, they render me more vulnerable to certain kinds of cancer, and they cause minor side effects such as hypertension and nausea. I do not ever want to go back on insulin, but the prognosis for my transplanted pancreas is uncertain. At some point, my autoimmune disease will break through and kill my new cells. I also risk rejecting my pancreas since my body does not fully accept it as my “own”. The very drugs that reduce my immune response to this organ are also very toxic to my pancreas and each year, it develops more scar tissue.

I won’t give up until there is a Cure. I have seen what diabetes can do to people – as a medical doctor I have taken care of patients with wounds that won’t heal, eyes that do not see, and kidneys that require dialysis. I have seen young and old people who are depressed due to the constant monitoring and the loss of control and I have known people who died from the disease.

This is why we have decided to create a new kind of Venture Fund – T1D Capital – focused on T1D but solutions will be applicable in associated autoimmune diseases and insulin-dependent T2D. We will identify, invest in, and manage companies that are in the regenerative medicine and immunology space that will deliver breakthrough solutions for people like myself and so many others.

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