The discovery of insulin almost 100 years ago has resulted in a remarkable increase in lifespan and quality of life for patients with type 1 diabetes. The Joslin Medalist Study has allowed researchers to access and study patients (Medalists) with type 1 diabetes who have been insulin dependent for 50 years or more. In this issue of the JCI, Yu et al. evaluated HLA variants, autoantibody status, β cell function, C-peptide release, and monogenetic diabetes genes in a cohort of Medalists. Postmortem analysis of pancreata from Medalists revealed the presence of insulin-positive β cells in these patients. Moreover, some patients were still able to respond to metabolic stimuli despite long-term insulin dependence. Overall, the Medalist cohort was highly heterogenous, and genetic testing suggested that several patients would fall into categories other than type 1 diabetes on the basis of REVEL (rare exome variant ensemble learner) classification and may be able to transfer to other therapy options.
Fabrizio Barbetti, Simeon I. Taylor