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September 25, 2023

Participants Like Mikaela Fuel Research Advances

Participating in a clinical trial for type 1 diabetes (T1D) was easy for 9-year-old Mikaela.

“Everyone was really nice. I just had to drink a milkshake with some medicine in it and get an IV. Then I watched TV for a while and nurses checked my blood sugar,” says Mikaela, who lives in Bozeman, Montana.

She and her mom, Brandy, traveled to Seattle five times to participate in the DREAMT study.

This study is examining a medicine called abatacept, which is FDA approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and has been shown to preserve insulin secretion after diagnosis of T1D. This medicine works well for some, but not all people with T1D. DREAMT researchers aimed to identify markers that could help predict who would and wouldn’t respond to the medicine.

“Participating in research is empowering,” Brandy says. “BRI’s team helps kids like Mikaela all day, every day. Many members of the research team live with T1D. There’s power in Mikaela seeing that and having their support. It has also been really meaningful to help improve scientific understanding of T1D treatment.”

Featured Mikaela Family Editorial
Mikaela and her mom took time out of their busy schedules to participate in BRI’s research into new medicines for T1D.

A Mother’s Intuition

Brandy is no stranger to T1D. Her brother has lived with it since he was a kid, and her nephew also has T1D. So when Mikaela was experiencing uncomfortable urinary symptoms, Brandy took her to the doctor. When the scale revealed that Mikaela had lost some weight, Brandy asked for a urinalysis test.

“I told the nurse I thought Mikaela might have T1D and she looked at me like I was crazy,” Brandy says.

Sure enough, Brandy was right. They were soon learning how to manage Mikaela’s blood sugar. Then a doctor gave them a brochure about the DREAMT study.

“The diagnosis was overwhelming, and I couldn’t believe we were considering taking this on too. But participating in research gave us hope when we were feeling helpless,” Brandy says. “The tools to manage T1D are better now than when my brother was diagnosed 30 years ago, but I felt like we’re in the same place in terms of treatments or cures. It’s exciting to be part of a study that is working to slow down or stop this disease.”

Helping Make Diabetes Go Away

With every visit, they grew closer to the research team. Between visits, they were grateful for all the calls, texts and emails checking in and supporting them as they learned to manage T1D. Mikaela has finished participating in the trial, but her family still keeps in touch with BRI’s team.

Brandy monitors her daughter closely, so Mikaela can focus on all the things she loves — soccer, skiing, horseback riding, and any other outdoor activity. Mikaela is taking everything in stride. Her motivation for participating is simple. 

“I hope it helps other kids, and I hope it helps doctors find a way to make diabetes go away,” she says.

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