Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects 1.6 million Americans, approximately 200,000 of whom are children and adolescents. T1D is characterized by T cell-mediated self-destruction of insulin-secreting islet β cells which leads to the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. As a result, normal food and exercise-induced fluctuations in blood glucose levels can no longer be regulated by the body.
Currently, T1D is managed by insulin therapy, wherein insulin is administered to a patient to help regulate blood glucose levels. Management of T1D is an extremely active process and requires numerous finger pricks throughout a given day to check insulin levels, especially with relation to eating, exercise, and other activities. Even with close monitoring, blood glucose levels can reach dangerous levels that, in extreme situations, can be life threatening. Furthermore, insulin therapy is not a cure, nor does it prevent the possibility of T1D complications.