At Vertex we’re focused on developing transformative new therapies for diseases where we have a deep understanding of the underlying causal biology. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a perfect example of this. T1D is a chronic, autoimmune disease where the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed. This leads to complete deficiency of insulin, a hormone that’s needed for metabolism. Insulin controls the transport of nutrients into cells. Its absence leads to cells throughout the body, like muscle or liver, failing to take up nutrients properly. In people with T1D, this results in high levels of sugar in the blood that can be damaging and dangerous.
Our aim is to address the underlying cause of T1D by developing therapies to potentially replace the insulin-producing cells that are destroyed. Building on work pioneered in the laboratory of Dr. Douglas Melton and at Semma Therapeutics (acquired by Vertex last year), the Vertex team is developing novel stem cell derived islet cell therapies to hopefully achieve this goal. We have invested in building world class teams and capabilities in research and manufacturing across multiple technology platforms, and we are committed to advancing these new medicines into the clinic. You can learn more about our innovative science with this new video, Vertex Forward: Diving Into Type 1 Diabetes.
As highlighted in the video, we believe our science is the next frontier in T1D, and that our team has what it takes to succeed — breakthrough technologies, a highly collaborative team and a relentless determination to solve every challenge that comes our way. Along with the science and technology, we also believe that it’s important to bring more visibility to this disease and the daily burdens that exist for people living with T1D, their families and caregivers despite the therapies that exist today. These commitments will ultimately help us to make a difference for people living with T1D.
People living with T1D have to manage their disease twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for their entire lives. They have to give themselves insulin — a life-saving drug — multiple times a day to keep their blood sugar from being too high. However, there’s a delicate balance between blood sugar that’s too high (not enough insulin) or too low (too much insulin), and these levels are impacted by just about every aspect of daily life — diet, exercise, sleep, stress and more. This is the challenge that people with T1D live with every day. Abnormally high or low blood sugar levels can be immediately life-threatening, and chronic high blood sugar levels lead to increased risk of serious long-term complications including damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.
These challenges are what motivate us to develop potential new therapies for people with T1D. It’s also why we strongly support both World Diabetes Day and National Diabetes Month in November, and it’s why Team Vertex was proud to join patients, families and supporters for the virtual 2020 JRDF One Walk. Last month, more than 50 Vertexians walked more than 1,000 miles to share our commitment to help put an end to T1D, one step at a time.