January is a BIG month!  Yes, it’s the beginning of the new year and the new decade.  It also contains my birthday plus my diaversary, which is BIG for me!  On January 25 (at 5:30pm New York time), I’ll “celebrate” 55 years of living with Type 1 diabetes, every single day … that’s 20,089 days!  I used to keep track of the number of injections … but I lost track after about 20 years.  I’m kind of sorry I didn’t keep all the empty vials of insulin … that would have been breathtaking (although quite a sizable stash). 

I truly wish I had never been diagnosed with T1d.  However, since it is a fact of my life, then I am filled with gratitude that I am still alive and able to take advantages of all the medical advances and participated in fundraising to contribute to the research developments.  I look forward to more changes, BIG changes.  I’ll raise a diet coke in toast to medical research and improvements PLUS this extraordinary diabetes community that fills every day with kindnesses and laughter and loving support.

Happy 2020 to all you Savvy Ds!  Hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday!  Looks like we are getting back into the swing for the new year!

New insulin affordability options from Novo now available in U.S. was reported by Douglas W. House for SeekingAlpha.com, 2 January 2020. 

Novo Nordisk launches its My $99 Insulin Program, generic insulin brands and an Immediate Supply option for U.S. diabetes patients.  My $99 Insulin provides up to three vials or two packs of FlexPen/FlexTouch/PenFill pens of any combination of Novo insulins.  But this is not for everyone: New, immediate, one-time insulin supply option is available for people facing an acute need when more time is needed to identify a long-term sustainable solution.

Read more:  Novo Nordisk’s new insulin affordability available in the US

But it’s not all good news …2020 is three days old and drug prices are already jumping was reported by Megan Cerullo for CBSNews.com, 3 January 2020.

Prices on 411 drugs have increased an average of 5%, according to GoodRx, which tracks the cost of more than 3,500 drugs. Of the drugs that have seen rising prices, 407 were brand-name products and four were generic. U.S. drugmaker Merck raised prices on about 15 drugs, including diabetes medicines Januvia and Janumet, mostly around 5%.

Read more: 2020 is three days old and drug prices are already jumping

Diomics Corporation and University of California, Irvine Collaborate to Enable Cell Therapy Clinical Trial for Type 1 Diabetes was published by biospace.com, 2 January 2020. 

Diomics Corporation, based in San Diego, CA, a leader in forensic, diagnostic, and therapeutic science since 2009, and the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Lakey, Professor of Surgery and Biomedical Research and Director of the Clinical Islet Program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), today announced a Sponsored Research Agreement to ultimately improve islet transplantation for patients living with type 1 diabetes.

The current method for islet transplantation requires invasive, difficult, and time consuming surgeries that create stress and risk for both the patients and the islets. To circumvent these issues, cell encapsulation has been proposed as the next treatment option. Biomaterials can protect the transplanted islets from destruction from the body. Polycaprolactone (PCL) polymer has been used in cell replacement therapy, however, the PCL polymer degrade too slowly and exhibit poor cell adhesion qualities for optimal cell replacement therapy. Diomics’ technology overcomes these issues for improved cell adhesion.

Leading the Diomics Sponsored Research Agreement research at UCI is Dr. Jonathan Lakey, a world-class subject matter expert on cell therapies including pancreatic islets and stem cells. Dr. Lakey has pioneered the development of novel methods for implantation of pancreatic islets for patients with diabetes. “I am thrilled for the opportunity to work with Diomics and examine this novel and important proprietary biomaterial,” said Dr Lakey. “I am most excited about the potential variety of applications for this novel material.”

Read more: Diomics Corporation and University of California, Irvine Collaborate to Enable Cell Therapy Clinical Trial

The economy of connecting is a fascinating article about our data and the healthcare horizon.  Written by Piers Ford for HealthcareITNews.com, 27 December 2020, the monetization of patient data is set to be one of the biggest drivers of new business models across the healthcare landscape – and ownership of that data can give patients the power to shape the kind of healthcare they want.

Right now, patients don’t know their own strength. But as they wake up to their emerging role as keepers of their own healthcare data, the economic clout that comes with ownership will hand them a controlling stake in the new business models that are set to disrupt traditional financing across the sector.

An IDC/Seagate whitepaper, The Digitization of the World, for example, estimates a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 36% for healthcare data by 2025, making it the fastest growing sector by some distance. Put this in the context of a global data monetization market worth almost $708bn by the same year, and the economic impact of patient data ownership becomes clear.

According to Tata Consultancy Services, increased data sharing between healthcare organizations is set to drive innovation on three fronts: the use of analytics to gain insights that will help businesses – insurers and payers – understand customer preferences, stratify population risk and predict ‘undesirable’ events; the rise of data-oriented, personalized products that will enable patients to participate in their wellness through the value of their own data – traded, for example, in a blockchain-based data market place – and with a more accurate picture of their own health than anything afforded by a basic EHR; and the sharing of data assets created by these models.

Changing the patient mindset:  Orlando Agrippa, CEO and founder of healthcare analytics company Draper & Dash says data can be the lubricant for new business models, but it will require a different patient psychology to overcome patient phobia that something bad might happen as soon as they start thinking about using their data commercially. And only then can new models start to ease global pressures – the shortage of doctors, rising populations, slow patient flow – that are compounding the challenges of 21st-century healthcare delivery.

I know, pretty heavy on the economics side … but just take a moment to think about this. It’s YOUR data. Up until a few years ago, our diabetes tech companies allowed us to see the data but not have the data.  That is changing. 

Read more:  The economy of connecting

OK, this next two topics will seem far afield.  BUT … think about these in terms of your relationships with your healthcare providers … and even your family members. 

The Surprising Science of Alpha Males was delivered as a TedMed Talk by Frans de Waal, Ph.D., a primatologist and ethologist at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, 3 January 2020.  Dr. de Waal explores the ways that human behavior around community, solidarity, and leadership link directly to primates’ behavior, adding context to our understanding of what it means to be a human “alpha” female or male.

The highest-ranking male is the alpha male. The highest-ranking female is the alpha female. Every primate group has one alpha male, one alpha female, not more than that. There’s only one and I will explain how that goes.

How do you become an alpha male? First of all, you need to be impressive, intimidating, and demonstrate your vigor on occasion and show that you’re very strong.  They also become extremely generous. They share food very easily with everyone, or they start to tickle the babies of the females. Normally, male chimpanzees are not particularly interested in infants. But when they’re campaigning like that, they get very interested in infants, and they tickle them, and they they try to curry favor with the females.

In humans, of course, I’m always intrigued by these men who are candidates and hold babies up like this. This is not particularly something that babies like. But since it is a signal to the rest of the world, they need to hold them in the air. I was really intrigued by when we had a female candidate in the last election, the way she held babies was more like this, which is what babies really like. But she, of course, didn’t need to send the message that she could hold the baby without dropping it, which was what the man was doing. This is a very common tactic, and male chimpanzees, they spend a lot of time currying favor with all sorts of parties when they are campaigning.

Read more:  The Surprising Science of Alpha Males


Empathy may be a survival strategy, as written by Robby Berman for MedicalNewsToday.com, 24 December 2020.  OK, the real title is actually “For rats, empathy may be a survival strategy,” but I thought you might stop reading if you thought this only applied to rats!  New research suggests that a rat’s experiences may act as an early warning system to its fellow rodents. 

Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s emotional experiences. Typically, we think of empathy as a noble quality that we relate to compassion.

However, a new study from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam suggests that for rats, being able to detect another’s feelings may be a vital survival tool.

“What our data suggest is that an observer shares the emotions of others because it enables the observer to prepare for danger. It’s not about helping the victim but about avoiding [becoming] a victim yourself,” says Valeria Gazzola, senior author

The research team was able to use the rat experiments to make a connection with the brain area scientists associate with empathy in humans, called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC).  To see if the rats’ ACC was similarly involved in empathy, the researchers introduced a drug that temporarily reduces activity in the area.  “What we observed,” says Prof. Christian Keysers, lead author of the study, “was striking.”

Without the region that humans use to empathize, the rats were no longer sensitive to the distress of a fellow rat. Our sensitivity to the emotions of others is thus perhaps more similar to that of the rat than many may have thought,” described Christian Keysers.

Read more:  Empathy may be a survival strategy

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