Dr Robert Gabbay Highlights Clinical Trial Results to Be Presented at the ADA Scientific Sessions

Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, the chief science and medical officer at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) offers insights on trial results and sessions to be presented at this year's ADA Scientific Sessions, taking place virtually June 25-29, 2021.

The Scientific Sessions has always been a place where groundbreaking studies are released, said Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, the chief science and medical officer at The American Diabetes Association (ADA).


How did COVID-19 illuminate the role of genetic vs social influences in diabetes?

COVID-19 has been a magnifier of some chronic problems that we've had in this country, and one of them has really been health disparities, with hospitalization and mortality being 6 to 12 times higher in people of color, people with diabetes disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and responsible for as many as 40% of the deaths in the United States related to COVID-19. All of that has led, amongst other things last year, to the ADA offering a series of 10 research grants that were aimed at being high impact, to understand the relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes. You'll see presentations from a number of those grantees, in a short period of time, already coming up with really important understandings of the interrelationship. There'll be a lot of information about that at our Scientific Sessions.

Advances in diabetes prevention, and the prospect of therapies that could halt or slow its onset, are among the most exciting developments in recent years. Can you preview the ADA sessions that will address these topics?

Yes, particularly in relation to type 1 diabetes (T1D), we advocated with the FDA for approval of teplizumab, which would be the first treatment that could delay development of T1D, which is incredibly exciting. I think you'll see a lot of, not only deeper understanding of the stages of T1D, and the autoimmune nature and how we might halt it, I think there'll be a lot of discussion around that. We're really on the cusp of this, as well as multiple other therapies. One of the sessions, in fact, is a debate. There are a number of great debates at Scientific Sessions, and we find them as a really stimulating way to flush out the pros and cons in what can often be a very entertaining matter. One of those [debates] is, "Should we still be doing immunomodulation studies in the setting of COVID-19?" You'll hear both the pro and the con on that.

Can you offer some highlights of the clinical trials we will see at ADA?

The Scientific Sessions has always been a place where the groundbreaking studies are released. I'll just mention 2 biggies that really have the chance to be paradigm shifters in care. One is the GRADE trial, which is the first comparative effectiveness trial looking at 4 different therapies after the initiation of metformin. That's a clinical question that we sort of don't know the answer to, although we have our ways in which we do this. This was an over $120 million investment by NIH to do this trial.

The readout of the trial is going to be at the Scientific Sessions. That's going to be really exciting. It's one of those where it will be virtual this year, and I guarantee there will be not only everybody watching, but checking their phone for the publication online. It will be timed with, no doubt, publication of this landmark trial.

The other big one that I think we're really excited to see is the SURPASS trial. That'll be having its readout. That's the first dual glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor and gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) agonist, a dual agonist and the early press release results have been very exciting. But again, we need to see the data and that's why we'll all be tuning in at the Scientific Sessions.

Those are 2 of the many clinical trials that you'll see released at the meeting.