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Find out the latest news about JDRF's research and fundraising events.


JDRF welcomes new director to further strengthen UK type 1 diabetes research

JDRF is pleased to announce that Dr Clare McVicker has officially joined the organisation to the new role of Director of Research Advocacy.

Clare comes to JDRF from having spent nine years at the Wellcome Trust. With a wealth of expertise in type 1 diabetes, she has been a manager in their Department of Cellular, Developmental and Physiological Sciences in the science funding division.

Clare – who has a BSc in pharmacology and a PhD in physiology – will be working to increase and further strengthen type 1 diabetes research by raising awareness of the condition and the profile of JDRF in the wider UK research community.

Clare said: “I’m excited about helping JDRF expand its funded programme of type 1 diabetes research – and to therefore enhance scientific understanding in crucial areas – such as the misfiring immune system response behind the development of this serious condition.”

Type 1 diabetes is one of over 80 known autoimmune conditions including multiple sclerosis, coeliac disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Over four million people in the UK live with an autoimmune condition, which sees their immune system mistakenly attack friendly cells.

She added: “The cure for type 1 diabetes will be found. It’s just a question of time, money, and great research. Finding this cure could act as a skeleton key – unlocking ways to prevent and cure a range of other autoimmune conditions.”

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, said: “We believe that there are significant opportunities to drive forward our understanding of the root causes of type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune conditions. By adding Clare’s wealth of experience and knowledge to our team, we are really looking forward to taking this research to the next level in the UK. 

“I thank her for joining the team and helping to accelerate progress toward our vision of a world without type 1 diabetes.”

Since JDRF was established 40 years ago, we have funded more than £1 billion of research worldwide. Find out more about the projects we support here.


Korn singer gives hope to son with exclusive song for JDRF

The best-selling metal group Korn have released an exclusive download for JDRF, after the lead singer’s youngest son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year.

So Unfair was written by frontman Jonathan Davis to shine a light on his son Zeppelin’s struggle with the condition. The 43 year old has made an emotional call for people to download the single – available for a limited time only.

Multiple Grammy Award winner Davis said: "Zeppy has had type 1 diabetes now for over a year. It's a battle for me, it's a battle for him, it’s a battle for everybody.

"I have to constantly monitor his glucose, I have to constantly hurt him and stick him with needles, and he doesn't understand.”

He added: "JDRF gives me hope. I want to support this wonderful organisation that is fighting tooth and nail to help these little kids out. It's a horrible disease and I hate seeing kids in pain. Let’s find a cure for this bull****, please.”

Davis has "hope for an artificial pancreas" for his six year old son, which he has been reading a lot about since the shock diagnosis. And he isn’t the only global rock star calling on people to unite against type 1 diabetes. Only recently did Este from Haim – who lives with the condition – announce her support for JDRF too.

Watch Jonathan Davis talk about So Unfair and the inspiration behind it in this video (contains swearing). Korn will be touring the UK in January next year. 


Winners announced of 2014 research photo competition

We asked our researchers to send in images that showed their research in action, for the chance to win a £500 travel bursary (£250 for the runners-up). Here are the winning entries, with explanations from the researchers themselves.

1st place

Georgios Ponirakis, Clinical Research Coordinator at The University of Manchester

The photos show our team using In Vivo Corneal Confocal Microscopy (IVCCM) to test for nerve damage caused by type 1 diabetes. Nerve damage is a common complication of diabetes, so a rapid, non-invasive, clinical assessment technique for its detection - such as IVCCM - is useful to predict and prevent further complications.

We hope that by screening for long-term complications early on, we can prevent them from developing.

2nd place

Dr Sarah Cross, Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences and Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM), University of Oxford

In June 2014, the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism held its first public engagement event, entitled 'Unravelling the Mysteries of Diabetes'. Our aim was to create fun and interactive ways to explain, to both adults and children, the diabetes research that is carried out in our centre, in order to make our research more accessible to the general public.

This photograph was taken during one of the guided tours of the DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility, in which we demonstrated how we collect the parts of the pancreas that make insulin, the islets of Langerhans, from a donated organ in our clean room labs. These tours proved extremely popular with the public, who were able to discover both the long history of islet transplantation research in Oxford and how it is now translated to the clinic to combat hypo unawareness and allow insulin independence in patients with severe type 1 diabetes.

3rd place

Dr Sarah Cross, Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences and Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM), University of Oxford

Islet transplantation is a classic example of recent research in type 1 diabetes that has enabled a novel treatment to be translated from 'bench to bedside'.

This series of photographs illustrates the process of human islets being extracted from a donor pancreas, infused into the recipient’s liver, and the transformation of a patient’s life from life-threatening hypo unawareness to stable blood glucose levels (and, in this patient, prolonged insulin independence). The microscopy image demonstrates the complex structure of the pancreas and the ongoing challenges of islet isolation. This challenge forms a central component of our JDRF-funded research.


Young singer dreams of Christmas hit with type 1 diabetes awareness song

JDRF supporter Phoebe Maddison – who lives with type 1 diabetes – has released a single to raise awareness of the condition.  

The song, My Life, has been written with the aim of explaining to those unaffected by type 1 diabetes what life is like for children and teenagers who have to live with it every day.

Speaking to the Swindon Advertiser, ten year old Phoebe said: “The song uses the words of children who are diabetic. It’s letting them express themselves. It’s very powerful and emotional and tells you what diabetes is really about.”

She added: “It would be my dream to get a number one at Christmas.”

The lyrics were written by Steve Paxton from Nuneaton, who has two children that also live with the condition. He said: “Any parent of a type 1 child will tell you how difficult it is for friends and even family to appreciate what they go through every day just to stay alive.”

He added: “The purpose of the song is to give children with type 1 diabetes something they can play and say: If you want to know what it’s like for me, this tells you.”

Phoebe is very use to being in the public spotlight and championing type 1 diabetes issues. Earlier this year she won an International Emmy Kids Award for her appearance in BBC documentary Same But Different – about the condition.

Music written by Jack Fletcher, My Life is available as a CD or to download here. All money raised from the sales of the song will be donated to JDRF.

If you want to spread the word on type 1 diabetes too, why not sign up to be a T1 Youth Ambassador? Help set the facts straight on the condition – find out more here.


Breath test device could help diagnose type 1 diabetes in children

The potential to quickly diagnose children with type 1 diabetes before the onset of serious illness could be achieved using a simple, non-invasive breath test, according to new research reported today in Journal of Breath Research and the Daily Mail

A team of researchers from Oxford have linked a sweet-smelling chemical marker in the breath with a build-up of potentially harmful chemicals in the blood that accumulate when insulin levels are low. It is hoped these results could inspire the development of a diagnostic device to identify children with new diabetes before the onset of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). 

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, said to the Mail: “Early diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is crucial if people are to avoid being hospitalised with diabetic ketoacidosis. This is life-threatening and extremely traumatic for the individual’s wider family.

“Any new knowledge from research that could help doctors to diagnose people more swiftly is to be very warmly welcomed. I hear far too many stories from people who were turned away by their doctors after their first visit.’

She added: ‘The best known symptoms of type one diabetes are the “four ts” - more visits to the toilet, increased thirst, increased tiredness, and getting thinner. But sweet-smelling breath, also known as pear drop breath, is another important clue. Some or all of these symptoms can be present.’

DKA occurs when a severe lack of insulin means the body cannot use glucose for energy and starts to break down fat instead. Organic compounds called ketones are the by-product of the breakdown of fat and, if left unchecked, can build up and cause the body to become acidic. Acetone, which is the simplest ketone, is one of the by-products produced in the development of DKA and is usually disposed of through the breath.

Professor Gus Hancock, one of the researchers behind the study, said: “Our results have shown that it is realistically possible to use measurements of breath acetone to estimate blood ketones. 

“We are working on the development of a small hand held device that would allow the possibility of breath measurements for ketone levels. Currently testing for diabetes requires a blood test which can be traumatic for children.”   

 He added that the test could be used in children already diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, to establish if their condition was deteriorating by “providing a warning of the possible development of DKA.”

Being newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes can be a daunting time for anyone. For parents, adults and teenagers – JDRF has a range of useful resources to help.


JDRF Chief Executive supports calls for greater recognition of insulin needs in developing countries

JDRF’s Chief Executive in the UK is supporting calls for greater recognition of the needs of people with type 1 diabetes in developing countries.

Speaking in praise of the #insulin4all campaign that was launched for World Diabetes Day last week, Karen Addington is calling on people to join this significant awareness raising initiative.  

The campaign – formed by The Pendsey Trust and T1International – is drawing attention to those with the condition who struggle to survive in countries where they cannot afford insulin and other essential diabetes management tools.

Mrs Addington said: “While treatments and technology to manage type 1 diabetes are constantly improving for those with the right access, thousands of people still lack the life-dependent equipment they need to live with it. Surviving and thriving with the condition should not depend on where you live.

 “At JDRF we fund the best type 1 diabetes research worldwide and we’ve seen more progress in the last five years than we have in the past 50. There have been remarkable breakthroughs recently, and when more pioneering diabetes technology comes to market in the future, it is my hope that everyone can eventually get access.”

World Diabetes Day was celebrated on 14 November – the day of Frederik Banting’s birthday. It was this gentleman – along with Charles Best – who discovered insulin back in 1921. Before then, type 1 diabetes was a death sentence for everyone.


Artificial pancreas could arrive sooner – if Government can deliver on plans announced today

Government plans to cut wait times for new treatments in half could be a major boost in the fight to deliver the artificial pancreas for those living with type 1 diabetes, according to JDRF.

The Times reported this morning on the Government’s attempt to drastically increase the speed at which the NHS can introduce new therapies.

The newspaper reports that outside of the parameters of the usual clinical trials system, Ministers also want to test individual patients with promising new drugs and analyse their anonymised data to discover much more quickly how effective certain treatments are.

Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman said: “I want to ensure that patients up and down the country can get access to important innovations as soon as possible. By revolutionising the way in which we look at getting medicines and devices into the NHS we will make sure that this country is the best place in the world for 21st Century medical innovation."

Sarah Johnson, Director of Policy and Communication at JDRF, responded by saying: “It is a real concern for JDRF that new treatment developments emerging from research into type 1 diabetes take so long to reach people. We work as hard as we can to reduce the timeframe, but there are significant barriers in the way. Any measures that seek to break down these barriers, while maintaining patient safety, are to be welcomed.”

She added: “The artificial pancreas has been developed with the support of JDRF. It is now in advanced human trials, and promises to change lives for those with type 1 diabetes. We are committed to making it a reality – and helping to ensure all those in the UK living with the condition who want it can access it.”


X Factor mum affected by type 1 diabetes to help JDRF shed light on condition

2014 X Factor contestant Helen Fulthorpe – whose son lives with type 1 diabetes – has become an ambassador for JDRF. She will help JDRF to raise awareness of the condition, and will be performing at its annual Christmas Celebration Concert in London this December.

The 34 year old mother of two knew nothing about type 1 diabetes until her son, Joseph, was diagnosed with the condition last year. Now passionate about supporting JDRF and its mission, she said: “I think it is so important to inform people about type 1 diabetes, and support and help those affected by it too. I am honoured to be an ambassador for this amazing charity.”

In 2007, after training as a dental nurse, Helen had a sudden change of heart and decided to embark on a career in music. Her two children then decided to apply for the X factor on their mother’s behalf. Helen impressed both the audience and the judges and reached the last few stages of the competition.

Helen will be performing at the JDRF Christmas Celebration Concert on Saturday 6 December.  She will be joined by the show stopping Fulham Brass Band and the Type 1 Children’s Choir. There will be Christmas drinks, mince pies and general festive cheer. All proceeds from the event will go to JDRF.

Louise Ingham, Development Manager at JDRF said: “Helen has the most wonderful and dazzling stage presence. I am really delighted to be welcoming her to this year’s Christmas Concert! A big thank you to Helen – and every other participant – for supporting our mission to eradicate type 1 diabetes.”

Tickets for the concert are £20 and under 16’s go free.  For more information and to buy yours before they sell out, visit our website here.


Rockstar Este Haim talks type 1 diabetes to JDRF – and makes global call to ‘kick this thing in the butt!’

Musician Este Haim – part of the international best-selling group ‘Haim’ and who lives with type 1 diabetes – is raising awareness of the condition and fundraising for JDRF.

Este was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 14 years old and is a member of the group with her two sisters – Danielle and Alana. Speaking to JDRF in the US at a California fundraising event on Saturday, she said: “type 1 diabetes takes a lot of planning. It’s no joke. You’ve got to take it seriously.

“My sisters are like my cheerleaders. Having support is really, really important – I’m so lucky I have them with me.”

In 2013 Haim were awarded the ‘Sound of 2013’ by the BBC. And in 2014 they received ‘Best International Band’ award from NME. Este told the BBC this year how she once ‘nearly died’ having a hypo while performing on stage at Glastonbury.

Calling on others to join her in fundraising for JDRF, she said to KTLA News: “I know we can help fund a cure together…let’s do this and help me kick this thing in the butt!”

Este took part in a JDRF Walk last weekend – an event which takes place globally. And only recently, did thousands of JDRF supporters #WalktoCure Diabetes across the UK. 

Find out how you too can get involved with JDRF.


Thank you to all of our wonderful supporters – you’ve made #TypeOnesie 2014 an incredible success

It was World Diabetes Day on 14 November. And for the second year running, JDRF supporters up and down the country embraced our #TypeOnesie campaign.

From schools to celebrities and work places to universities – you donned your best all-in-one, had fun and helped support vital type 1 diabetes research! Specifically, you’ve helped us fund research like a smart insulin – which could mean only one injection a day for people living with type 1 diabetes.

Sam Loxton has lived with the condition for 27 years. He did a #TypeOnesie golf night for World Diabetes Day and raised over £4,600 for JDRF. He said: “I’ve seen incredible developments in the technology available to treat the condition.  And this would not have been possible without research –that’s why I’m willing to look silly and try raise the much needed funds to help JDRF find a cure for type 1 diabetes.”

33 year old Natalie Wood took part in a #TypeOnesie event in Hampstead because her brother lives with the condition. She said: “He’s shown me that we are very much in control of our lives, not the conditions we have.  His endless strength and determination is an inspiration to everyone he meets – a #TypeOnesie of a kind!”

Thousands of you took to Twitter and Facebook and showed how serious you are about raising awareness of type 1 diabetes. Here’s just some of your brilliant efforts.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “The dedication of our supporters – shown clearly through the #TypeOnesie campaign – is incredibly humbling. Social media has been alight with so many fantastic World Diabetes Day activities. #TypeOnesie or not – thank you for fundraising for JDRF and sharing with us everything you’ve been doing in support of type 1 diabetes research.”

It’s not too late to get involved. To show your support for World Diabetes Day – visit our donate page. 


Royal spotlight on type 1 diabetes in Palace sewing challenge for JDRF

JDRF T1 Youth Ambassadors and Guides had a duvet day at Buckingham Palace on 13 November to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes. They were joined by HRH The Countess of Wessex, in the culmination of a national GirlGuiding sewing challenge.

The ‘Sensational Sew 1 Challenge’ was inspired by JDRF supporter and GirlGuiding member Juliet Fynn, who lives with type 1 diabetes. For months Guide groups from as far afield as Dundee, Northumberland and Bristol have joined in the challenge, finding out about type 1 diabetes and designing and sewing their own quilting square. Some have created as many as 20 quilt squares each – and have raised more than £2,000 so far. The squares have been used to create a magnificent quilt for JDRF.

The Countess – who is also the GirlGuiding president – added the finishing touches to the quilt in the Palace’s Blue Drawing Room. She received a hug and flowers from young JDRF ambassador Lucy Upton, who was delighted to have her support for the campaign.

16 year old Juliet, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for six years, said: “The Sew 1 challenge is important to me because I wish to do as much as possible to help JDRF find a cure for the condition. It’s also important for raising awareness – as so many people still think type 1 diabetes is caused by a bad diet.”

She added: “The event at Buckingham Palace, the day before World Diabetes Day, is a great way to hopefully increase people’s understanding.”

The event was also attended by JDRF board director Jim Lurie. His parents founded JDRF in the 1970s, after his brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was ten years old. 

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “Type 1 diabetes is on the rise in the UK and diagnosis can often occur at a young age. It’s a challenging condition and requires constant management. So my warmest thanks to Juliet, Girlguiding and everyone who has contributed to the Sew 1 challenge – for raising vital awareness and supporting our mission to cure the condition.”

Chief Guide Gill Slocombe said: “Guide groups across the UK should be proud of themselves for choosing to take on the Spectacular Sew 1 Challenge. They have raised awareness and funds for an important charity. Girlguiding members have a proud history of social action and stepping up to help other people – long may it continue.”

Further funds will be raised from the auction of the quilt, which will support our research to better treat, prevent and one day cure type 1 diabetes.

If you want to be a JDRF T1 Youth Ambassador like Juliet, learn more here.


Hairy Biker Si King gets in his #TypeOnesie for JDRF

With just a few days to go, celebrities affected by type 1 diabetes are donning their #TypeOnesie in a bid to raise awareness and funds to combat the condition.

Si King of the Hairy Bikers – whose son Dylan lives with the condition – is one of those supporting our #TypeOnesie campaign. He is helping to raise vital funds to support research projects like a smart insulin – which would mean only one injection a day for those living with the condition.

Si, sporting a blue JDRF onesie, shared his excitement about smart insulin approaching human trials. He said: “Smart insulin would mean the world to my family. It would mean not draining blood five or six times a day. It would psychologically free you up from thinking about the condition all the time. How marvellous is that?”

He added: “Type 1 diabetes is tough. There’s that dichotomy between having to maintain good management of the condition, but also having to ensure it doesn’t dominate your life. Smart insulins would be an enormous leap forward.”

Si recently supported JDRF by donating £100 for every one pound in weight lost during a weight loss campaign through his Hairy Bikers Diet Club. By losing weight, Si reduced his risk of type 2 diabetes. But he chose to support JDRF because his son could have done nothing to avoid type 1 diabetes, which is not linked to diet or lifestyle.

Rugby player Chris Pennell – who lives with type 1 diabetes and has played for England – has also recently supported the #TypeOnesie campaign. He got his Worcester Warrior team mates to get involved too!

To join Chris Pennell and Si King in becoming a #TypeOnesie for World Diabetes Day, visit


From one, to five, to more? The smart insulin story so far

This autumn we’ve been talking about how being a #TypeOnesie could help support JDRF’s research on smart insulins. So Rachel Connor, Head of Research Communication at JDRF in the UK used the opportunity to find out more about the smart insulin research we’re already funding.

JDRF’s smart insulin story began around the same time as I joined JDRF, in 2008. Not long after joining the team, I heard about a company called SmartCells, Inc., that we were helping to develop a type of insulin that would only be active when glucose levels rose and would stop working as soon as those levels fell again. The simplicity of this idea grabbed me right away. I was delighted when the data showing that this crazy new idea for insulin looked promising enough for pharmaceutical giant Merck to buy up SmartCells, Inc. in 2010 enabling them to lend their formidable drug development expertise to the project. It’s a great story to illustrate how far JDRF’s money can go by investing in promising new ideas, so it’s a story I never get tired of telling!

But did you know JDRF has five smart insulin projects in active funding right now?

Three of these are one-year innovative grants, which allow scientists to start to explore an idea that looks nice on paper, but isn’t guaranteed to work. One project is working with the molecular building blocks of insulin to see if it can be rebuilt so that it still works in the same way as usual, but only when there is enough glucose in the blood stream to activate it. Another is screening a library of possible drug molecules that might help people with type 1 to automatically control their blood glucose levels. The final project is focusing on the interaction between insulin and the insulin receptor that allows cells to take up glucose from the blood stream and seeing if modifying this interaction could be useful for people with type 1.

We also have two longer term grants that are starting to examine whether ideas for smart insulin that seem to work in the test tube will work in animal models of diabetes. In Texas, a team is looking at a way of packaging insulin in a clever framework of ‘bubbles’ that will only allow insulin to escape when glucose levels rise. And in California, researchers are trying to make a form of insulin that is stable in the body for a long time, but is only activated when glucose levels are high, through a process of ‘competitive binding’.

And what next? Scientists have recently been sending proposals into JDRF with more ideas for how to develop smart insulins. Experts around the world are now helping us to work out which of these ideas are most promising and should be developed with JDRF funding – so who knows how many more ideas we’ll be working on in a few months’ time? One thing is for sure – being a #TypeOnesie will help us support these projects.

Are you being a #TypeOnesie on World Diabetes Day? Find out more here »

You can find out more about smart insulins by clicking here »


Could a blood pressure drug help beta cells survive? People with type 1 diabetes will soon help researchers find out

A new clinical trial is due to begin shortly, testing whether a commonly used blood pressure drug, verapamil, can help remaining insulin-producing beta cells survive in people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

The trial is the result of many years of laboratory research – much of it supported by JDRF – gaining insights into how beta cells work in people with diabetes. The research team, led by Dr Anath Shalev at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have found that when a person develops diabetes and their blood glucose levels rise, their body starts overproducing a protein called TXNIP. Research has shown that an excess of TXNIP in beta cells triggers a process of cell death, which of course makes it even harder for the body to regulate blood glucose effectively.

The research team then started to search for drugs that could help reduce TXNIP in beta cells. And they found that verapamil, which is widely used in the treatment of high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and migraine headaches, fitted the job description.

Working with mice with diabetes, the team found that the drug was very effective – not just halting beta cell decline, but actually restoring the mice’s ability to make their own insulin. The team have planned the new clinical trial to find out if the drug can have a similar effect in people with type 1.

There is no current treatment for diabetes that targets beta cell growth and development in this way, so if the results of this trial are positive, it might establish a completely new treatment paradigm for type 1 diabetes.

This trial will be a stepping stone to see if the approach can work. In the best case scenario, this trial would see beta cell mass completely restored in all the people taking the drug in the study. This is unlikely – but a more subtle effect would still be very beneficial explains Dr Shalev: 'We know from previous large clinical studies that even a small amount of the patient’s own remaining beta cell mass has major beneficial outcomes and reduces complications. That’s probably because even a little bit of our body’s own beta cells can respond much more adequately to very fine fluctuations in our blood sugar — much more than we can ever do with injections or even sophisticated insulin pumps.'

The announcement of this clinical trial goes to show how important detailed ‘basic science’ studies in the lab can be – a thorough understanding of beta cells biology is what has made this trial possible. JDRF is proud to have supported the lab science that has got us to this point, and to be providing the funds for the clinical trial that will test whether the approach can work in people.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK commented 'Repurposing existing drugs to address the fundamental challenges of type 1 diabetes – in this case the loss of the beta cells which make insulin - is a smart approach. Years of work in the lab to understand how beta cells work has allowed scientists to identify a target and then search out existing drugs that act on it. This trial will now allow us to see if the positive findings in animals can translate into humans. We eagerly await the results.’


Lawyer to don #TypeOnesie for 100 mile treadmill walk in aid of JDRF

A London lawyer will take on an epic 100 mile challenge in aid of JDRF – dressed in a onesie.

47 year old Peter White works for the global law firm Linklaters. He will be supporting JDRF this World Diabetes Day – by walking 100 consecutive miles on an office treadmill!

Talking about the challenge ahead, Peter said: “The walk will be extremely demanding and physically very tough – it’s the equivalent of doing three and a half marathons continuously.”

Peter added: “The moment I start it will be hard, as I know I’ll be putting my body through a lot of stress to get through it. So I’ll be looking forward to when I complete it! My colleagues and friends will also be showing support, by walking alongside me in half hourly slots and donating to JDRF as they do so.”

With several members of his family affected by type 1 diabetes, he added: “My drive in doing this is to support people who are suffering from this awful condition. In life we should push ourselves for the benefit and greater good of others who are less fortunate than ourselves. So doing this is incredibly uplifting.”

The challenge – which has apparently never been done before – will help to support JDRF funded research into potential breakthroughs such as smart insulins. This is a new class of insulin that could be used to treat type 1 diabetes, keeping glucose control nearly perfect, with only one injection a day.

Elie Kelpie, Senior Corporate Development Fundraiser at JDRF, said: “My biggest thanks to Peter and all of his sponsors for supporting JDRF. We’ll be there cheering him on for his World Diabetes Day challenge ­– and wish him the best of luck for it!”

If like Peter you want to support JDRF this World Diabetes Day, visit


Breaking news: Encapsulated stem cells implanted in to person with type 1 diabetes for first time

JDRF partner company ViaCyte has announced the first successful implant of its islet encapsulation system into a person with type 1 diabetes. The person was taking part in a University of California-based trial to assess the safety of the system.

Type 1 diabetes arises when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, leaving a person with type 1 unable to manage their own blood glucose levels without external sources of insulin. ViaCyte’s system replaces these insulin-producing cells, and could therefore allow a person with type 1 to produce their own insulin automatically in response to changing glucose levels.

The device, called VC-01, contains thousands of immature cells derived from stem cells in a credit card-sized capsule. Once implanted inside the body, these cells mature into insulin-producing cells and are kept safe from the immune system. This protection sets the treatment apart from traditional transplantation, where the cells are left unprotected and are eventually destroyed once again by the immune system.

Because the system uses stem cells, it also has the potential to treat far more people than transplantation, which is hampered by a lack of organ donors. Indeed, just two weeks ago, Dr Doug Melton, who has also received JDRF funding, announced an efficient method of producing thousands of insulin-producing cells from small numbers of stem cells in the lab.

However, the University of California trial is just the first of many that will be needed to see if the treatment is a success. The primary goal of this first study is to evaluate the safety of the VC-01 device in people who have had type 1 for at least three years, not to make them insulin independent. Subsequent trials will be needed to see how effective the device is over a number of years.

‘I’m really excited that this encapsulation system is being tested in a person with type 1 diabetes,’ said Karen Addington, CEO of JDRF in the UK . ‘Islet encapsulation has huge potential to transform the lives of people with type 1 – which is why we’re proud to support this and many other encapsulation projects around the world.’

Dr. Paul Laikind, President and CEO of ViaCyte, said: ‘Treating the first patient with our stem cell-derived islet replacement product candidate is an exciting next step in our quest to transform the way patients with type 1 diabetes are impacted by the condition.  Moving from a promising idea to a new medicine is a long and challenging journey and we are grateful to JDRF, and all its supporters, for the tremendous and continued support they have provided.’


JDRF supporter and Hairy Biker Si King: “Type 1 diabetes is a pain in the a**e!”

Si King – who is one half of the much-loved Hairy Bikers – has opened up about the challenges of being a father to a teenager living with type 1 diabetes.

Speaking about his 14-year-old son Dylan, Si said: “His body is going through a lot of changes. I love adolescence. I have had a great time with my three kids going through that stage. But adolescence is always challenging and it’s even more challenging when there’s a chronic condition involved.

“All the physical and psychological challenges of being an adolescent can be compounded by the condition. Fundamentally, that’s why I’m supporting JDRF.”

Speaking about type 1 diabetes, the TV star said “It’s a pain in the arse. You’re seeing loved ones sticking needles in themselves. You don’t want that for people you love.” But he added that “diabetes doesn’t control us as a family. We do what we have to do.”

The chef told JDRF that he likes to follow developments in type 1 diabetes research that are taking us closer to new treatments and the eventual cure. He said: “I have news feeds from medical journals on my computer. This stuff affects me, so I read up on it.”

Si described the JDRF-funded Harvard research breakthrough announced earlier this month as “absolutely fantastic.”

Si is currently in the middle of a JDRF-supporting six week weight-loss campaign with his Hairy Bikers Diet Club.  By losing weight, he’ll be reducing his risk of type 2 diabetes. But he chose to fundraise for JDRF during the campaign to highlight that son could have done nothing to avoid type 1 diabetes, the development of which is not linked to lifestyle or diet.  

For every pound in weight he loses, he’ll give £100 to charity. £1 is also being donated for every person that signs up to lose weight with Si, who said that his battle with the bathroom scales was “going great.”

When Si announced his weight-loss campaign at the end of last month, Chief Executive of JDRF Karen Addington expressed her thanks. She said: “He’ll help to bust some diabetes myths, as well as helping us to support vital type 1 diabetes research.”


Rugby pro with type 1 diabetes tackles the condition in #TypeOnesie spirit

Rugby star Chris Pennell – who lives with type 1 diabetes and has played for England – has backed JDRF’s #TypeOnesie charity campaign for World Diabetes Day. He’s been busy training in his onesie, and has got his Worcester Warriors team mates involved too!

From left to right: Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Sam Smith, Chris Pennell and Ryan Lamb battle it out 

The #TypeOnesie campaign sees supporters wear a onesie for the day, on or near to 14 November, to raise funds and awareness for type 1 diabetes charity JDRF. The 27 year old full-back decided to get involved after being inspired by the breakthrough JDRF-funded study from Harvard scientists this month.

Chris said: “There’s been some remarkable work in pioneering type 1 diabetes research recently. And with World Diabetes Day fast approaching, now more than ever is the time to help raise funds for JDRF.”

He added: “The rugby lads and I have had a great laugh dressed as a #TypeOnesie and encourage others to do the same! Please get involved and spread the word!”

In June this year, Chris became the first rugby player living with type 1 diabetes to score a try for England.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, said: “Living with type 1 diabetes certainly doesn’t have to stop you from achieving great things – Chris proves this. He is a brilliant role model for people living with the condition.

“A big thank you to Chris and his friends, for getting behind our #TypeOnesie campaign with such enthusiasm.”

If like Chris you want to support JDRF for World Diabetes Day, visit


Dashing new Downton Abbey character has special link with type 1 diabetes charity JDRF

The world-famous fictional world of Downton Abbey has received a new face, thanks to a special real-life collaboration between the show and JDRF.

Atticus Aldridge, played by Matt Barber, is the show’s dashing new character who looks set for romance with beautiful young Lady Rose. He is named after a real-life Atticus Aldridge – who is only 21 months old.

The character's name was won in a fundraising auction for JDRF at the Sugarplum Dinner last year, organised by Sugarplum Children to raise funds for the charity.

Sugarplum founder Jubie Wigan is from Oxfordshire and has a small daughter who lives with type 1 diabetes. Jubie approached the show’s creator and family friend, Lord Fellowes, to ask if the chance to name a character could be auctioned off at the high-profile dinner which took place in central London in November 2013. ‘Atticus Aldridge’ is the result. 

Jubie said: “We are so excited about the arrival of Atticus Aldridge to Downton Abbey. We are so grateful to the generosity of the bidders, and are so proud to have played a part in the conception of a character in one of the most successful TV shows of all time.  And were hoping we can offer the same auction prize at the next dinner in 2015!”

Atticus’ parents are generous auction bidders Michael and Georgia Aldridge. Their donation will help JDRF to support vital type 1 diabetes research.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “JDRF would like to warmly thank the Aldridge family, Jubie Wigan, Lord and Lady Fellowes and all of the Downton Abbey team for their precious ongoing support of our mission to better treat, prevent and one day cure type 1 diabetes.”

Read more about JDRF's celebrity supporters.


Newport mum gets school ready for #TypeOnesie and World Diabetes Day next month - what will you be doing?

Four year old Olivia Allcock was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2012. Since then, her family have been dedicated to raising money and awareness of the condition in order to one day find a cure. Olivia was a #TypeOnesie for World Diabetes Day in November last year. She enjoyed it so much that she will be doing the same again this year.

The campaign means wearing a onesie for the day – whether at school or work – and joining thousands of others across the country in raising awareness of type 1 diabetes and funds for JDRF.

 Vicki, Olivia’s mum and Newport resident said: “Last year, all the children and staff at Olivia’s nursery took part in #TypeOnesie day. Our local paper even came along too.

 “Olivia can’t wait to do it again. She’s just started reception at Lliswerry Primary School and has got all the infants, juniors and staff to get involved too. They’re all so excited about wearing their onesies to school!”

Talking about how the condition affects family life, Vicki said: “With Olivia being so young she doesn’t understand the seriousness of the condition. Diabetes is constantly on my mind because she is not old enough to manage it herself.”

She added: “Raising money for JDRF means a lot to us. By getting in our onesies we are helping to get better treatments and one day a cure for type 1 diabetes – so Olivia and all the other children living with the condition can one day lead a normal life again.”

Mrs Saunders, Head Teacher at Lliswerry Primary School, said: “When Olivia asked if the school could stage a #TypeOnesie day – we were more than happy to oblige! We encourage every child to enjoy learning and develop a lively and enquiring mind and therefore for any child living with type 1 diabetes, having the condition should not be a hindrance.”

She added: “The #TypeOnesie campaign is a shining example of how pupils can have fun, but also learn about an important cause. I would encourage other schools to get involved too.”

If like Olivia and her school you fancy being a #TypeOnesie for JDRF, you can find out more here.