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


New JDRF Chief Executive in the United States

JDRF has a new Chief Executive in the United States.

Derek Rapp, who is from St Louis, Missouri, will take charge of JDRF in the U.S. – the country where the charity was originally founded by a small group of dedicated parents.

Derek has the ideal career history to lead JDRF as a research charity. He is formerly CEO of Divergence, the biotechnology firm, and has also held prominent positions at Monsanto. Derek has been involved with JDRF since his son, Turner, was diagnosed with the condition in 2004. He takes over his new post from Jeffrey Brewer.

Derek said: “It is an honour to assume the role. JDRF is a unique organisation with a powerful mission. I look forward to building on the strong foundation Jeffrey Brewer has created. I am excited to lead our incredibly talented team as we work together to deliver life changing treatments, and eventually a cure, to those living with type 1 diabetes today, on our way to preventing the disease for generations to come. In the end, I know that we will succeed because the passion, determination, and dedication of our donors and our army of volunteers across the world will accept nothing less.”

Since JDRF was founded in the suburbs of Philadelphia on May 21, 1970, it has enjoyed four and a half decades of phenomenal supporter-led growth. Supporters and staff have raised more than £1billion worldwide for type 1 diabetes research, as part of JDRF’s mission to better treat, prevent and one day cure the condition.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, said: “We welcome Derek into his new role as CEO in the country where the JDRF story began. I look forward to collaborating with him as we progress towards a world without type 1 diabetes.” 


New therapy for type 1 diabetes that would eradicate injections makes further progress

A new therapy for type 1 diabetes that would remove the need for injections or pumps – by allowing people to produce their own insulin again – has moved closer to human trials.

The regenerative medicine company ViaCyte has filed an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S Food and Drug Administration, seeking the right to progress towards clinical trials for its cell replacement therapy.

ViaCyte has manipulated stem cells – which are cells that can develop into any human cell type – to potentially develop into mature pancreatic cells once implanted into a patient with type 1 diabetes. If successful, these cells would then have the capability to produce insulin in a glucose-responsive manner, thus eliminating the need for injections or pumps.

The therapy would see the cells being ‘encapsulated’ before being placed in the body. This is where a protective barrier mechanism prevents misfiring immune cells targeting the pancreatic beta cells inside, whilst simultaneously allowing the release of insulin.

The treatment would be administered through a simple, outpatient surgical procedure.

ViaCyte hopes to test the product in patients living with type 1 diabetes within two years. Furthermore, ViaCyte has already developed the product further to also release glucagon, a hormone that stimulates the release of glucose in response to hypoglycaemia.

JDRF provided substantial funding to help ViaCyte’s project develop.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, said: ‘JDRF will be continuing to work in partnership with ViaCyte as the company makes further progress towards clinical trials. If successful, this therapy would be life changing for those with type 1 diabetes.’

  • JDRF is also funding a research project in the UK that uses the encapsulation approach. Read more here.

Sir Ian Botham's new foundation gives support to JDRF

Cricket legend Sir Ian Botham has launched a new charity foundation - and JDRF is one of the lucky organisations to receive support.

Sir Ian, still known to his fans as ‘Beefy’ Botham, is considered one of England’s greatest ever sportsmen. Since his retirement from cricket, he dedicated much of his life to raising funds for important causes.

His daughter, Becky Botham-Armstrong, lives with type 1 diabetes and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for JDRF in June, along with a team of fellow JDRF supporters.

The new Beefy’s Charity Foundation, which was launched in west London on July 16, will provide support to JDRF and four other benefiting charities:

Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research

Brain Tumour Research and Support

Cardiac Risk in the Young

The Batten Disease Family Association

Adele Claase, Head of Events for JDRF, said: “JDRF is so fortunate to have the Botham family as friends. Becky’s trek up Kilimanjaro was nothing short of heroic. To have the support of her father’s foundation is a wonderful bonus. Beefy’s Charity Foundation will help us to support vital research into better treating, preventing and one day curing type 1 diabetes.”

JDRF's Climb Kilimanjaro trip will take place once again in 2015. Do you want to be a part of it?


Announcing our new Director of Fundraising – Dean Benton

JDRF is pleased to announce that Dean Benton has officially joined the organisation this week as its new Director of Fundraising.

Dean comes to JDRF from the RAF Benevolent Fund, where he has been Director of Marketing and Communications for eight years.  Before that, he worked as Director of External Affairs for Action for Children.  

With experience of corporate, appeal, direct marketing and legacy income generation – Dean started his fundraising career in community and regional fundraising.

Dean said: "I am absolutely thrilled by my appointment and excited by the prospect of playing my part in helping to find the cure for type 1 diabetes.

“I join a vibrant organisation wholly committed to its charitable endeavour. Its spirit and single minded determination will one day make the world a better place for those currently affected by the condition.”

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “We are really looking forward to working with Dean and benefitting from his wealth of experience and knowledge.”

“He joins us at a time of very exciting growth and development. On behalf of everyone that lives with type 1 diabetes – I thank him for joining the team and supporting our mission to cure the condition.”

Dean will be replacing Caroline Hellicar, who is moving onto Asthma UK after nearly eight years at JDRF.

You can meet the rest of the JDRF team here.


Ladies' evening raises £2,000 for JDRF

JDRF supporter Eloise Stiles, from Rawtenstall in Lancashire, along with the Ladies of Rossendale, has raised £2,000 for JDRF.

Eloise organised an evening, called Show Your Love, which took place on 27 June 2014. The ladies decorated their local sports club into a venue for music and dancing, and guests enjoyed a night of live entertainment from local upcoming soloists, and ended the evening dancing to a live band.

Eloise was inspired to organise the event by her daughter, Erin, seven, who was diagnosed with type 1 on New Year’s Eve 2013.

Eloise said: "I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone who came and enjoyed the evening, but also to the local businesses that donated prizes, and my closest friends that helped to bring it all together. This is our first year of running Show Your Love and we raised over £2,000 whilst creating a greater awareness of this life long condition."

Since Erin's diagnosis, Eloise has set her heart on raising as much money as possible to support JDRF and she is planning to make Show Your Love an annual event.


Regulator issues alert over Accu-Chek meters

Accu-Chek Mobile by Pearlsa, via flickrThe UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has issued an alert about some Accu-Chek blood glucose meters, stating that they may give a false low blood glucose reading when the person using them is taking an antibiotic called ceftriaxone.

The devices affected by the alert are the Accu-Chek Compact, the Accu-Chek Active and the Accu-Chek Mobile meters, along with their respective test strips. Other devices in the Accu-Chek range are unaffected, and can be used as normal if you are taking the antibiotic.

If you are using one of these meters, and are taking ceftriaxone, you should speak to your healthcare provider, who should offer you an alternative device while you are receiving treatment.

More information about the alert is available on the MHRA website.

Image courtesy of Pearlsa, via flickr.


Special baby formula does not affect type 1

JDRF-funded researchers in Finland have found no evidence that using a hypoallergenic baby formula can affect the early stages of type 1.

This contrasts with their findings from a previous pilot study, which suggested that a special type of formula could reduce the chance of genetically at-risk babies developing early indicators of the condition.

In the new trial the infants, who all had a first-degree relative with type 1, were allowed to breastfeed for as long as their mothers wanted to, then given either a special hydrolysed baby formula, or a standard cows’ milk formula containing 20% of the hydrolysed formula, for at least 60 days.

Then, over the next seven years, the researchers took regular blood samples from the children and analysed them for islet autoantibodies. These are proteins that show the immune system is primed to attack the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, and are good indicators of a person’s risk of later developing type 1.

The researchers, led by Professor Mikael Knip of the University of Helsinki, found that the number of children who developed these autoantibodies was roughly the same whether they were given the hydrolysed milk or the cows’ milk formula. The risks remained similar even once the results were adjusted for the length of time the children were fed the formula, and for other genetic and environmental risk factors.

This suggests that, in terms of autoantibody risk, there is no benefit to using hydrolysed milk. However the study will continue for another three years to assess whether this finding translates to  type 1 risk, as not everyone who develops autoantibodies will go on to develop the condition.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: ‘The results presented by Professor Knip are interesting and we look forward to seeing the results of continued exploration. Understanding the development of type 1 diabetes is a vital part of our work to cure, treat and prevent the condition.’

The researchers presented their results at the American Diabetes Association conference in San Francisco, and in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


HR award evening raises a wonderful £6,000 to support type 1 diabetes medical research

Guests at the annual cHeRries Awards, which recognises and rewards excellence in HR, Training and Recruitment in the North East of Scotland, helped raise the funds to support JDRF Scotland.

Karen Reid, Director of the event’s organisers, Aberdeen HR, Training & Recruitment consultancy Urquhart Partnership (UP), was motivated to raise the impressive sum at the awards after a friend’s daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of six.

Karen heard about JDRF from friend and former UP employee Lucy Williams from Westhill, whose daughter Caitlin has type 1 diabetes.

Karen said: “I learned from Lucy about the affect a type 1 diabetes diagnosis can have on a whole family. Those with the condition must take insulin every day via multiple injections or a pump. It is a demanding condition to live with."

 “JDRF is a wonderful charity which has a mission to better treat, prevent and one day cure type 1 diabetes, by supporting the best worldwide medical research into the condition. That’s why we were so delighted to raise such a lovely amount of money from the cHeRries Awards.”

Catriona Morrice of JDRF said: “We would like to express our warm thanks to The cHeRries Awards for this generous donation.”


Inhaled insulin approved for use in the USA

Afrezza, the inhalable insulin produced by the company MannKind, has been approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that American adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can now use Afrezza as their mealtime bolus insulin. However, it has not yet been approved for use in the UK or Europe.

The announcement follows research by MannKind that found that using Afrezza as a mealtime bolus for six months can reduce HbA1c levels in people with type 1, although not by as much as Novo Nordisk’s NovoRapid.

This was the third time that the drug has been examined by the FDA – the organisation originally rejected Afrezza in both 2010 and 2011, asking for more evidence of its efficacy and safety. The approval, too, comes with a requirement for MannKind to study the efficacy and safety of the drug in children, as well as the long-term effects of the drug on lung function. The FDA also announced that Afrezza should not be used by smokers or people with chronic lung diseases (such as asthma).

Afrezza is taken using a thumb-sized inhaler at the start of the meal, and travels through the lungs into the bloodstream. It is an ‘ultra-rapid’ insulin, as the peak insulin level in the blood occurs around 12-15 minutes after use, compared to 30-90 minutes for many injected ‘rapid’ insulins. This makes it more similar to insulin produced naturally by the pancreas in people without type 1.

This speed of action led JDRF to fund a trial using Afrezza in 2010, as part of a programme developing faster insulins for the artificial pancreas. The participants used Afrezza at meals to fine tune their blood glucose levels, alongside the slower-acting insulin being given by the artificial pancreas. This meant that people had smaller blood glucose level peaks at mealtimes.

The field of inhaled insulin is challenging. In 2007, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer withdrew its drug, Exubera, after poor sales and suggestions of an increased risk of lung cancer, and soon afterwards, Novo Nordisk and Lilly both halted their studies into inhaled insulin.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: ‘The approval of Afrezza means that people living with type 1 diabetes have another option for the way they manage their condition. We will continue to monitor the drug’s progress through the European and UK regulatory and reimbursement systems.’


Government reveals increase in type 1 diabetes research funding after launch of #CountMeIn campaign

Following the launch of JDRF’s #CountMeIn campaign back in March, revised Government funding figures have revealed that money spent on type 1 diabetes research has increased.     

The latest figures were revealed in a recent parliamentary debate entitled ‘Type 1 diabetes and young people’ which was secured by George Howarth MP after he attended the launch of #CountMeIn.

These figures have since been confirmed in writing from Science Minister David Willetts. The Minister said: "The figures are different to those previously quoted. This is due to an error in the figures released by the Medical Research Council prior to 2013".

He added: "The figure for 2010/11 has also been adjusted because of a change in reporting methodology."

These revised figures now show a slight overall upward trend in UK Government spending on type 1 diabetes research. Further details can be seen in the table below:

JDRF is campaigning for Westminster to further increase funding of type 1 diabetes research, and at least match the per capita spending of the USA, Canada and Australia.

On a per capita basis, Australia spends 19p on type 1 diabetes research; the USA 29p; and Canada 34p. Despite the upward revision to UK figures, we are still only spending 10p per capita on vital research to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF said: “It is promising to see that Government funding of type 1 diabetes has increased. But UK funding is still far behind other developed nations. Unless action is taken, our position as Europe’s leading nation for research into the condition is at risk.”

Type 1 Parliament was a huge success, and JDRF has since been able to use the momentum it generated to begin discussions with other major research funders – about creating a completely new collaborative research initiative that would significantly increase the amount of money going into type 1 diabetes research. This will not happen overnight. It will take some time to develop the detailed plans that go into establishing a novel major research partnership.

But we still need pressure to make it happen. JDRF launched its #CountMeIn petition this month to continue putting pressure on the Government to increase funding. The petition has gained more than 11,000 signatures already. 


JDRF Kilimanjaro climbers complete monumental mountain challenge

A JDRF team of trekkers has triumphed in its bid to be the largest ever group living with type 1 diabetes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

The group set off last week to climb Africa’s tallest mountain, before scaling the summit over the weekend to enjoy stunning views – and the taste of glory.

The heroic team of trekkers climbed the beautiful Marangu trail, through muddy rainforest, along rocky paths and over valleys, past glaciers and ice cliffs. Participants living with type 1 diabetes faced the challenge of managing their condition as temperatures, altitude and their energy levels constantly changed.

Having climbed to an altitude of over 5,800m, the team has now completed its descent down the mountain. They can now relax, rebalance and rest their aching limbs before heading back to the UK.

Donor Development Officer at JDRF Kris Wood took part in the challenge. He said: “This was an incredible experience – one that I and the rest of the group will never forget. There were certainly challenges along the way, but working in such a close-knit team meant we could pull through it together.”

Kris, who lives with type 1 diabetes, added: “Before we set off, I was daunted by what lay ahead. But we’ve proven that you can write your own stories in life and if you put your mind to it, any challenge is possible.”

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “This remarkable adventure will go down in JDRF history. It highlights that living with type 1 diabetes does not have to stop you from achieving great things.

“My thanks to everyone who embarked on this challenge, and for supporting our mission to cure type 1 diabetes.”

2015's JDRF Kilimanjaro challenge will take place from 18-28 June. If you are inspired to take part, please register your interest here.


#BloodSugarSelfie: announcing the total raised thanks to your wonderful donations

Diabetes Week 2014 has now drawn to a close – and we can announce the total sum raised through our highly popular #BloodSugarSelfie social media campaign.

JDRF supporters grabbed their blood glucose meters, shared their selfies, and donated a fantastic £833.50. With Bayer Diabetes Care having pledged to match the amount, JDRF will in total receive a highly impressive £1,667 from the brief seven day campaign.

The figure was raised through more than 130 individual donations. Participants ranged from adults to small children living with type 1 diabetes – and the selfies made for a wonderful week of friendly faces dominating JDRF’s Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “I would like to say a big thank you to all those who shared their #BloodSugarSelfie along with a donation. We extend our warm thanks to Bayer Diabetes Care too for enthusiastically agreeing to match the figure raised.”

She added: “The sum raised will support our vital research to better treat, prevent and one day cure type 1 diabetes.”

Ros Barker, Strategic Marketing Manager at Bayer Diabetes Care, said: “The #BloodSugarSelfie social media campaign has been a great success for JDRF and Bayer is delighted to have been able to support the initiative. The campaign used innovative and engaging ways to send an important message about accurate diabetes management – an approach that we fully support at Bayer.”

If you missed out on #BloodSugarSelfie, you can still donate to JDRF here.


Latest artificial pancreas projects show promise for the future of type 1 diabetes treatment

Two artificial pancreas projects have broken in the news this week, having shown significant promise for the future of worldwide type 1 diabetes treatment.

The first study – an artificial pancreas project co-ordinated by the University of Cambridge and funded by Diabetes UK – has shown for the first time in adults that the technology can be used at home and unsupervised.

Participants in the trial saw overall improved blood glucose control over the course of four weeks, with no increase in the amount of time spent in hypoglycaemia. The study follows recent JDRF-funded research that revealed the technology can be used safely by adolescents at home without supervision.

JDRF is the world’s leading charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research – and the artificial pancreas is a worldwide project. We have research teams based all over the world, collaborating with other teams to draw in different expertise.

Dr Roman Hovorka, lead author of the study at the University of Cambridge, told the Daily Mail: “The advantage of a system like this one is the ability to fine tune insulin delivery to account for variations in overnight insulin needs.

“The system was able to safely cope with these variations to achieve more consistent glucose control. Its benefits apply to a wide range of individuals.”

This news comes at the same time as separate artificial pancreas research is published in the United States. Referred to as a ‘bionic pancreas’, the five day study co-ordinated by Boston University was carried out 24 hours a day in both adults and adolescents. The smart phone-linked device can dispense both insulin and glucagon to participants.

Whereas insulin works to reduce the level of glucose in the blood, glucagon increases it.

The senior author of the study, Professor Edward Damiano, has a 15 year old son with type 1 diabetes. He told the New York Times that he was determined to get the new device working and approved in time for his son to go off to college carrying one. 

JDRF funded previous research with Dr. Damiano that helped lay the foundation for his current study and these results.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF said: “We congratulate Dr Hovorka, our friends at Diabetes UK and the team at Boston University on the promising results of these trials.  Continued collaboration is vital to make this technology a reality.

“Type 1 diabetes is a challenging condition. I look forward to the day the artificial pancreas can finally be placed in the hands of patients – changing the lives of the 400,000 people that live with the condition in the UK.”

You can learn about global projects that JDRF funds here.

Photo credit: Boston University Department of Biomedical Engineering


Couple climbing Kilimanjaro talk of their love for each other and for JDRF

In less than one week, our Kilimanjaro adventurers will be climbing the heights of Africa’s tallest mountain for JDRF.

Sales Manager Claire Williams will be participating in the climb with her partner Matt. Happily married for six years, they talk to JDRF about the physical and mental challenge ahead of them and how they will support each other through thick and thin.

Claire, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for nearly 40 years said: “Initially intrigued, daunted and excited in equal measure – I decided it was time to take on a challenge that shows how type 1 diabetes does not need to define what your possibilities are in life. It’s also great to do something for a cause so close to my heart.”

Matt ­– a music graduate turned City banker – signed up after only recently attending a training weekend in Snowdonia. He said: “Claire and I have gone from relative couch potatoes to doing some serious 17 mile walks. We’ve ticked off Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Slieve Donard. And we look forward to climbing Ben Nevis this year.  It’s been slow and steady – but it’s great to see the progress we’ve made over the course of a few months.  Both of us have discovered muscles we never knew we had!”

He added: “Four years ago we went on a safari in Tanzania and flew past Kilimanjaro. I looked down and thought who could possibly be daft enough to want to climb such an imposing mountain? And here we are now – daft enough to want to do it and to prove that we write our own stories in life.”

Speaking fondly of the challenge ahead, Claire said: “For anyone aspiring to do something similar – go for it! With the right preparation, the rewards of taking on a challenge should not be under-estimated. Doing something like this as a couple can strengthen your relationship and being in the same situation together builds trust. Knowing that we have got each other for support is going to really help us up the hill!”

Matt said: “Climbing Kilimanjaro will test us to the maximum. The great thing about doing this as a couple and a wider group is that we are all in it together.”

He added: “The last month has been pint-free, so we very much look forward to a drink when it’s all over!  I also promise to remove my Brian Blessed-inspired beard upon my return if we reach our fundraising target!”

 To make a donation and support research into curing type 1 diabetes, please visit Matt and Claire’s Just Giving page.

If you are inspired to take part in the 2015 JDRF Kilimanjaro challenge, please register your interest here.



Regulator asks people to check their diabetes meters following false high readings

People with diabetes using a certain blood glucose meter are being warned after some experienced falsely high readings.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is asking users of Accu-Chek Mobile blood glucose meters to ensure they follow the testing instructions. This is because the meter may give false high blood glucose readings if testing instructions are not followed accordingly. 

Manufacturer Roche Diabetes Care states it has identified a small number of people using the strip-free Accu-Chek Mobile blood glucose monitoring system who have experienced falsely high blood glucose readings. This meter requires users to follow different testing instructions compared to other diabetes meters. If this procedure is not followed correctly an incorrect reading may be given even though the meter is working properly.

The manufacturer has issued fresh training and handling instructions which are available online.

John Wilkinson, the MHRA's Director of Medical Devices, said: "People using this particular blood glucose monitoring device are encouraged to access the updated testing instructions at

"An incorrect blood glucose reading can lead to people using the incorrect dose of insulin which, in some circumstances, could lead to an extremely low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) and this may have serious consequences.

"People need a fully working blood glucose meter so they can get an accurate reading and, if necessary, seek immediate medical attention.

"Blood glucose testing is an important part of diabetes management. People using these meters should ensure they follow the correct operating instructions when using them.

"If people have any questions about their blood glucose readings they should speak with their diabetes care team. Or they can contact the Accu-Chek customer care line on 0800 701 000."


#BloodSugarSelfie is back for Diabetes Week! This time, get your donation doubled for JDRF

Social media phenomenon #BloodSugarSelfie is back for Diabetes Week 2014 – and this time it is twice as big – as Bayer Diabetes Care UK will sponsor the event and match donations made to JDRF.

#BloodSugarSelfie emerged as an online trend among the online diabetes community, drawing inspiration from the viral #NoMakeupSelfie campaign for cancer research. Now, during Diabetes Week (Sunday 8 to Saturday 14 June), JDRF and Bayer Diabetes Care are urging supporters to get testing, get snapping, get tweeting and get donating!

The campaign will raise awareness of type 1 diabetes and support JDRF’s vital research into better treating, preventing and curing the condition. It will see people living with type 1 diabetes post photos on social media of themselves alongside a reading from their blood glucose monitor, accompanying this with a text donation to JDRF. Bayer has pledged to match all donations during Diabetes Week, up to a limit of £4,000.

Last time, JDRF received 850 donations totalling just over £4,000. With the help of Bayer Diabetes Care’s sponsorship, JDRF hopes to double this amount.

The 400,000 people in the UK who live with type 1 diabetes - including nearly 30,000 children - rely on multiple insulin injections or pump infusions every day just to stay alive. A child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of five faces up to 19,000 injections and 50,000 finger prick blood tests by the time they are 18. The condition is not linked to lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “The #BloodSugarSelfie campaign highlights that living with type 1 diabetes can be a very big challenge. Every day individuals living with the condition have to keep their blood glucose levels within a given range and this requires constant management.”

She added: “We are so grateful to Bayer for their generous match sponsorship. We also salute for its role in creating this superb campaign earlier in 2014. Together, we are supporting vital research to better treat, prevent and one day cure type 1 diabetes.”

Ros Barker, Strategic Marketing Manager at Bayer Diabetes Care, said: “The #BloodSugarSelfie campaign is a fun and innovative way to address the very serious topic of appropriate and accurate blood glucose measurement, which is key to successful diabetes monitoring and so we are delighted to support this initiative.”

To join the #BloodSugarSelfie movement, post a photo of you and your blood glucose reading to Twitter or Facebook with the #BloodSugarSelfie hashtag. Donations to JDRF can be made by texting ‘JDRF11 £5’ to 70070. The £5 can be changed to an amount of your choice.

Read the full press release here.


Meet the diabetes doctor who will be supporting JDRF trekkers on the slopes of Kilimanjaro

A London diabetes doctor will be swapping hospital corridors for the slopes of Africa’s highest mountain – to support an amazing JDRF charity adventure.

38-year-old Omar Mustafa’s typical work day is at King’s College Hospital, London, where he is a consultant physician in diabetes and general medicine. But later this month, he’ll be working to support trekkers with type 1 diabetes in climbing Kilimanjaro to raise funds for JDRF.

He said: “I undertake one big challenge a year which involves an outdoor activity. This year I decided to learn to ski. Around the same time, JDRF were looking for a diabetes specialist to join the Kilimanjaro challenge. So, for this year I set the bar high with a big and a very big challenge!”

Despite his love of the outdoors, Omar admits his previous adventures have been “nothing like climbing Kilimanjaro.”

He said: “Managing diabetes with exercise depends on the type of exercise and diabetes treatment. Trekking at an altitude during the Kilimanjaro challenge is going to add a totally new dimension to this. We, in the diabetes and medical team, have set out individual health plans and checklists to ensure the safety and wellbeing of participants throughout the trek.”

Omar said he was looking forward to “reaching the summit with the whole group and observing the sun rise” but also to working with the expedition’s diabetes and medical team “to ensure a smooth journey up and down the mountain for all.”

He said: “The training weekend in Snowdon with the participants was very useful for us as a diabetes team. We learnt more about managing type 1 diabetes and anticipating issues and problems participants we may encounter. We are now focused and looking forward to starting the climb.”

Omar has shared a Mark Twain quote that has been his inspiration as he prepares for the trip –

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

If Omar’s commitment to this JDRF charity adventure inspires you, donate via JustGiving page here.

To learn more about the upcoming Kilimanjaro challenge, meet our youngest and oldest participants – Imogen and Pete.

 If you are inspired to take part in the JDRF Kilimanjaro challenge next year, taking place from 18 – 28 June 2015, please register your interest here.


Sign and share the #CountMeIn petition – demand the Government invests in type 1 research

JDRF is targeting the UK Government with a petition demanding a major financial boost for type 1 diabetes research – and it wants you to add your name.

The rate of people being diagnosed with the condition is climbing fast. In the UK alone, 400,000 people live with type 1 diabetes – that’s one in every 150 people and over 29,000 children.

Not only does UK Government spending on research into type 1 diabetes remain alarmingly low but on a per capita basis, Australia spends almost double what we do; and the US and Canada three times the UK’s contribution.

We don’t believe this is good enough. With one year to go until the next UK General Election, our #CountMeIn campaign is stepping up a gear.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “Please join us and sign our #CountMeIn petition calling on the UK Government to urgently boost its investment in type 1 diabetes research – and safeguard the UK’s position as a leader in the fight to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes.” 

Sign the online petition and together we can push funding to cure type 1 up the Government’s agenda. Please also encourage your friends to sign and share the petition through social media. 


World famous nightclub changes its policies after clubber with type 1 diabetes is allegedly refused entry with medical kit

After pressure from a patron who lives with type 1 diabetes, London nightclub Fabric has changed its policies on bringing medical supplies into its premises.

34 year old Lizzy Whirrity attended the club earlier this month to be supposedly told by door staff that her medical supplies – including life-depending insulin and a blood testing kit – must be taken off her if she wished to enter.

Hackney resident Lizzy, who has lived with the condition for 30 years, said: “I was really upset. Giving over your medication to a stranger and to have your stability and dependency taken away like that is a really distressing experience.”

She added: “I was told I would have to go to a special room if I wanted to test or take insulin. They even said that if I wanted to check my blood glucose levels before I handed them over I would have to pay first!”

After seeking advice from JDRF, the 2,500 person capacity venue was quick to resolve this issue. People with type 1 diabetes – or any medical condition where vital supplies need to be carried – are now given the option to leave these with medical staff or keep them to hand.

JDRF supporter Lizzy said: “Disappointed, I tweeted Fabric the next day about what happened and they responded straight away. Despite my experience on the door, the club has been so proactive and understanding regarding this matter.”

She added: “A big pat on the back to them for changing their policies and recognising the problems with the original ones.”

Simon Mitchell, Community Relationship Manager at JDRF said: “Management of type 1 diabetes is a daily challenge. When this is not appreciated and understood, it can put extra pressure on those that live with the condition. Only recently did a pub allegedly ban a customer for injecting insulin in public.”

He added: “It’s good to see that more establishments are recognising these issues but it’s important that others continue to follow suit.”


Early treatment with abatacept can delay progression of type 1

US research shows that early treatment with abatacept, currently used to treat arthritis, can delay the progression of type 1 diabetes.

The work, which was part funded by JDRF, supports research showing many common links between different autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s beta cells (the pancreatic cells that produce insulin) are destroyed by the immune system. This happens because parts of the immune system (such as T cells) falsely recognise beta cells as foreign and attack them.

A previous JDRF-funded study showed that abatacept can decrease beta cell destruction in people who are newly diagnosed with type 1. It is thought that the drug works by stopping T cells in their tracks before they kill the beta cells.

In the current study, Dr Tihamer Orban at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, US, found that treatment with abatacept continued to have benefits up to a year after the participants stopped taking the drug. People who were given abatacept had lower HbA1c levels and higher levels of C-peptide (C-peptide is a good indication of insulin production; higher levels indicate higher insulin production).  Both HbA1c  and C-peptide act as indicators for long term blood glucose levels.

According to Orban, this implies that taking abatacept during the early stages of type 1 could “alter the natural history of disease progression”. His team suggests that starting short term abatacept treatment close to diagnosis would not only lead to better blood glucose management, but also give people a lower risk of complications, such as visual problems or decreased kidney function, later in life.

Dr Orban now hopes to continue his research into abatacept, in order to clarify to what extent the drug could improve quality of life and slow the progression of type 1. More research is also needed to understand exactly how abatacept prevents beta cell destruction.

Sarah Johnson, Director of Policy and Communications at JDRF, said: ‘This interesting study highlights the importance of autoimmunity research to type 1, and we look forward to seeing the results of Dr Orban’s future work. JDRF is continuing to fund research into abatacept, as well as a number of other immune system treatments, as part of our aim to cure, treat and eventually prevent type 1 diabetes.’

The research was published in the journal Diabetes Care.