To celebrate World Diabetes Day today, a circus performer with diabetes has thanked the clinical trial team who are helping to manage her condition. This year the annual awareness day is celebrating those who support people living with diabetes.
Ruby Wain, 24, who lives in London, is taking part in the COMBAT Type-1 trial at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The trial aims to find out whether a drug currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis might help people who have recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Ruby is a performer who specialises in aerial rope, silks, hoop and fire. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year after she fell seriously ill while working in Gran Canaria.
Type 1 diabetes is a form of diabetes where the immune system attacks the cells which produce insulin. It affects around 400,000 people in the UK and over half of newly diagnosed cases are in people over 18.
This means Ruby has to keep her blood glucose levels within safe limits, by checking them regularly and injecting insulin when required. Having diabetes has not stopped Ruby from performing, but she has had to make adjustments since she was diagnosed.
Ruby said: “People with diabetes are just normal people, and we can do everything anyone else can. But you have to plan ahead a lot, and it takes extra effort, all day, every day. It can feel very relentless.
“Being on the trial has given me that extra layer of support. I see someone every three months and have a chance to ask questions. I’m giving my time, so it feels like the team are happy to give their time and help me with managing my diabetes.”
The COMBAT Type-1 trial is a small trial involving 13 patients, to see if the drug Abatacept, which is currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, could help people with type 1 diabetes extend the period when their body is still producing some insulin. The drug works by blocking the immune cells that attack the pancreas.
Dr Sam Jerram, a Specialist Registar in Diabetes and Endocrinology at Guy’s and St Thomas’, is running the trial. He said: “Just after people develop type 1 diabetes, there’s often a period where the pancreas is still producing some insulin, and that makes it easier to control blood sugar levels. We’re trying to see if Abatacept prolongs this period because we know that if patients are able to control their sugar levels better, they are less likely to have complications down the line.
“Ruby has a really physically demanding job and so it’s especially important for her to be looking after herself and managing her diabetes well. It’s great that being part of the trial has helped her do that.”
The COMBAT Type-1 trial is sponsored by Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London. The project has received funding from the Rosetrees Trust and the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and the drug was supplied by Bristol Myers Squib.