Chicago organizations look for Type One diabetes cure

What causes Type 1 diabetes? Body identifies own parts as foreign, attacks them, doctors say

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, December 5, 2021
Our Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Approximately 1.6 million Americans are living with Type One diabetes. About 200,000 of those are under the age of 20.

Type One diabetes is an auto-immune disease: "The body has identified its own parts as foreign and attacks them. At least that's what we think in Type One diabetes," said Dr. Louis Philipson, an endocrinologist at UChicago Medicine and a leading expert on diabetes.

"So people who have that tend to be younger, but recent studies have shown that you can have Type One diabetes at any age, and in fact half of everyone who has Type One diabetes is actually above the teenage years," he said.

WATCH: Our Chicago: Diabetes - Part 1

A T1D cure is sought by organization like JDRF and UChicago Medicine.

For now, there is no cure. JDRF helps fund research to help find a cure.

"The way research happens is with financial support. Right now we're funding 150 research projects and 70 clinical trials," said Mimi Crabtree, the executive director of JDRF Illinois.

And she sees momentum in that research.

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"What's new? Well, a lot is new. The interesting thing about the last couple years in research is we've had a lot of advancements including devices that are updated," Crabtree said. "You know, a child used to prick themselves every couple hours; now we have devices that can do that without that pain and difficulty. We've got insulin changes we're making it to make it one, more affordable, more accessible but also different versions."

And as Crabtree explained, JDRF's work isn't just about research, but about helping people here and now.

WATCH: Our Chicago: Diabetes - Part 2

A T1D cure is sought by organization like JDRF and UChicago Medicine.

"Our effort here at the local level here in Chicago is to engage those dealing with the disease. Not just the individual, but the communities, the nurses, the employers, everyone that's touched by this. Because as you know, this is a lifelong disease And every day is a challenge for these individuals."

What are the signs of Type One diabetes?

"Typically we think about increased thirst, increased urination and weight loss," said Philipson. "And those things can be so subtle. I've seen parents bring a child in who's lost maybe 5 pounds or 8 pounds over the course of six months and it can be so subtle and so gradual that they don't realize it."

The upcoming JDRF One Dream Gala will focus on raising much needed funds for research to one day find a cure. And after being virtual last year, it is back in-person on Saturday at McCormick Place.

For more information on JDRF & the upcoming One Dream Gala, visit or