By Mindy Ragan Wood
A Yukon teenager hopes to make a difference in the lives of people who live with Type 1 Diabetes when she appears before Congress later this month.
Lundyn Cox, 14, was selected by the Oklahoma chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to testify regarding her story with T1D. Cox will also bring her service dog Archie to the hearing.
Cox said her speech will focus on continued research funding on behalf of JDRF and overpriced insulin prices.
“What I want them to understand is not everyone is able to afford these things and it’s vital to their survival,” Cox said.
One in 400 Oklahomans have been diagnosed with T1D which is an autoimmune disease that affects children and adults. It is not associated with diet or lifestyle and there is no cure or way to prevent the disease.
Cox doesn’t let her diagnosis stop her. She is a science fair state champion, on the honor roll, in the choir, and an artist. Cox plays softball, is an avid reader and volunteers in her community for underprivileged individuals. She will attend Bishop McGuiness High School this fall.
When she wanted a diabetic alert dog, she helped train Archie, a rescue dog, and became a certified service dog handler at the age of 13. Dogs with a strong ability to detect scents can smell the chemical changes in a person’s body at the onset of an insulin crash or spike and seizures. The dog will bark or whine or give some other indication that their handler is in need of help.
Her attentive pet was like a godsend.
“We found Archie on the side of the road on Mother’s day last year,” Cox said. “We weren’t planning on keeping him but the shelters were full. We got really attached to him and he also started alerting to my insulin levels.”
Cox said she and her mother had tried to find a diabetic alert dog but were unable to find a trainer.
“There’s not that many who train diabetic alert dogs and it was crazy that we found him,” she said.
JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, with a mission to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. JDRF has invested more than $2 billion in research funding.
DRF worked closely with the FDA to establish guidance for artificial pancreas device systems, which was finalized in 2012, and led to the approval of the first insulin-dosing system in 2016.
JDRF hosts an ongoing educational symposium series with FDA staff focused on beta cell replacement, which involves combining a replenishable source of insulin-producing cells with materials to protect the cells in the body to replace cells destroyed by T1D. The first human clinical trial for such a product was approved to proceed by FDA in 2014 and multiple additional approaches are under development, with some nearing advancement into human clinical trials.