The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), in partnership with JDRF, recently awarded a $3-million grant to a research project led by Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret, a researcher at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) and endocrinologist at the CHUM. The study, entitled Behaviours, therapies, technologies and hypoglycemic risk in type 1 diabetes: the BETTER study, aims to develop a digital and educational tool that would help reduce the risk of hypoglycemia for people with type 1 diabetes.
The four-year grant is an initiative of CIHR’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). “Canadian researchers are known worldwide for their work on diabetes and its complications. Canada's SPOR is about ensuring that the right patient receives the right intervention at the right time. This partnership with JDRF supports innovative research to improve treatments for people with type 1 diabetes while strengthening the environment for clinical trials in Canada,” said Norman Rosenblum, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes.
Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret’s project will be co-directed with Anne-Sophie Brazeau, Assistant Professor at McGill University’s School of Human Nutrition, in collaboration with eight other key investigators. The goal of the study is to develop an online educational strategy that will prevent hypoglycemia incidents.
Built in partnership with patients, the study is aimed at people with type 1 diabetes. The tool’s goal is to optimize the use of new technological devices (insulin pump or monitor indicating sugar levels in real-time) and treatments (new types of insulin and glucagon formulas) to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. It will include the implementation of a registry, a patient discussion forum, a blog, as well as educational material mainly based on videos. The study will also include the participation of the patients’ health professionals.
The tool will be tested across the province of Quebec among adolescents and adults. Anyone interested in participating in the study can contact Virginie Messier by email at email@example.com.
“This project addresses an important issue for patients: hypoglycemia can be a barrier to healthy behaviours,” said Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret and Dr. Brazeau. “New therapies and technologies offer a unique opportunity to reduce hypoglycemia risks, but it is also essential to be well equipped to use them to their full potential.”
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes affects 10% of people with diabetes and usually first occurs during childhood or adolescence. It is characterized by a pancreas that is unable to produce insulin. Therefore, in order to control their blood sugar levels, patients have to inject themselves insulin or use an insulin pump.
It can be difficult for diabetes patients to stabilize their sugar level: each meal, snack and physical activity must be counted to evaluate the right amount of insulin to inject. Hypoglycemia occurs if there is not enough sugar in the blood.
Hypoglycemia is the main obstacle to reach the glycemic targets that have been established to avoid complications such as eye or kidney damages. Although the consequences are relatively minor when hypoglycemia is quickly managed, more significant episodes can have severe consequences.
Anne-Marie Beauregard, Communication Advisor, IRCM
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