The results from the initial studies provide exciting information. About 35 percent of the Medalists in the Medalist Study do not have significant eye, kidney, or nerve diseases; even in the presence of hyperglycemia for 50 years. These studies, reported in several highly cited articles in important journals, Diabetes Care (2007,2011) strongly support the idea that protective factors exist endogenously in the Medalists, which can neutralize the adverse effect of hyperglycemia in the eye, kidney, and possibly nerves.
In addition, these studies also show exciting new findings that a large number of Medalists still can produce insulin as measured by plasma level of C-peptide. This new finding has raised a possibility that factors may exist in people with T1DM, which can rejuvenate insulin producing beta cells, and can be therapeutically important for both type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients.
In 2010, Drs. King and Keenan began the longitudinal component of The Medalist Study, which invites each of the original 1,020 participants to return to Boston for a second set of studies to confirm the original findings and determine whether aging can affect the course of T1DM. Recent studies using the bio specimen obtained in circulating blood and targeted organs, such as the eye and kidney have identified a profile of proteins that have the capability to prevent damages to the kidney.
Through a long and complex study, Dr. King's laboratory has potentially identified a set of proteins that could protect the various parts of the kidney from being damaged by high blood glucose levels. This was published in one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world, Nature Medicine, in 2017. Further reports will be coming soon regarding the protective factors against the development of eye disease in individuals with diabetes.
At this time, we have started multiple new projects involving the Medalists. These other studies include the characterization of Medalists' beta cell functions to produce and secrete insulin. The studies also looked at the existence or lack of cognitive dysfunction and osteoporosis, which are two of the major complications of aging diabetic patients. Another new study will be on the role of the gut bacteria to preserve the beta cell's ability to make insulin.
In addition, our newest endeavor is to characterize how the potential protective factors in the cardiovascular tissues that could be protecting the Medalists from heart disease with a seed grant from The Thomas J. Beatson, Jr. Foundation. These studies have and will provide a wealth of information regarding patients with long duration type 1 diabetes and will have a huge impact on the development of new treatments, even a cure for diabetes and its complications.
We want to thank all the Medalists who have been awarded the medal and those who have participated in our study. We greatly appreciate thier enthusiasm in participating in the study, their generous donationsof bio specimens, and all of the other assistance they have provided since 2003.