Specifically, the study showed that tight blood sugar control could reduce the risk of complications anywhere from 40 to 75 percent.
The DCCT study provided important insight into how the risk of complications may be reduced in people with type 1 diabetes. However, the DCCT results still don’t completely explain why some people with type 1 diabetes develop complications while others don’t. To aid us in solving this puzzle, JDRF helped support research at the Joslin Diabetes Center called the Medalist Study.
The study is an ongoing evaluation of a group of more than 350 people who have lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years (members of Joslin’s Medalist Program). The results of the study, published in the April 2011 issue of the journal Diabetes Care, indicated that a high proportion of the Medalists remained free of complications. Specifically, about 40 percent were free from eye disease and nerve damage, more than half were free from heart disease, and more than 85 percent were free from kidney disease.
According to the researchers who conducted the study, while many of the Medalists likely didn’t develop complications due to good blood sugar control, something else is additionally protecting them. The study showed that an association may exist between complications and specific combinations of advanced glycosylation end products (AGEs), and also that there are likely additional mechanisms yet to be identified.
JDRF funded this study as part of our research to develop therapies to treat and prevent the complications of type 1 diabetes. Understanding how and why complications develop is an area of high importance to inform our efforts to attain this goal. We are looking to the Medalists studies to provide key insight into these efforts.