Cookies on the JDRF website

Our website uses cookies to make your experience as great as possible. By continuing to use the website, we will assume that you agree to the use of cookies on the website. However, if you would like to change your cookie settings, please visit the website of The Information Commissioner's Office to find out how to control or delete cookies on your browser.

All news

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

Displaying News

16
Jun

Combined treatment for type 1 diabetes could stop the immune system in its tracks

JDRF researchers in California and Italy have successfully used ‘gene therapy’ to reverse the immune attack behind type 1 diabetes in mice.

Mice that received the treatment not only kept their remaining insulin-producing beta cells, but also stabilised their blood glucose levels without external insulin.

The researchers, led by Professor Maria Grazia Roncarolo, developed the treatment by combining two kinds of therapy that have shown promise for treating autoimmune conditions in the past. The first, gene therapy, saw them transfer part of a gene involved in insulin production into liver cells. This spurred the mice’s immune systems into stopping any rogue immune cells that might try to kill off insulin-producing cells. As a result, no more of these rogue cells were able to infiltrate the pancreas, even up to 33 weeks after the therapy. In comparison, mice that did not receive gene therapy had lost 80% of their insulin-producing cells after 33 weeks.

However, this part of the treatment did not reduce the number of immune cells present – it only maintained it. To allow the mice to restore their blood glucose levels, the researchers then used a single dose of a drug that can kill off immune cells. After this, 75% of the mice had blood glucose levels that stayed low for many weeks without needing external insulin.

The drug, called a monoclonal antibody, is often used after organ transplants to stop the immune system rejecting the organ. But there are issues with using these drugs continuously, as the body needs its immune system to fight off illnesses. So the fact that the treatment only needed a single dose – thanks to the addition of the gene therapy – is very promising.

Rachel Connor, Head of Research Communication at JDRF in the UK, said: ‘Over the last few years our understanding of how the immune system works in health and in type 1 diabetes has grown enormously. This innovative study has come up with a novel way of helping the immune system bring the attack on insulin producing beta cells under control, and even reverse it.

‘Gene therapy treatments are beginning to be tested in people now, so despite a long research journey ahead, approaches like this one may one day be able to help people with type 1 diabetes.'

The research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

15
Jun

Ride to Cure Diabetes raises impressive £15,000 – with more to come

JDRF's annual Ride to Cure Diabetes event in London has raised nearly £15,000. The event took place for the seventh year on 12 June 2015 outside the iconic Royal Exchange building in the City of London. Teams are still competing for the top fundraising prize and many companies offer matched giving to double the team fundraising total.

Energy was high, and the competitive spirit was alive under the marquee as 27 teams competed against each other over two sessions to see which team could peddle the furthest in 40 minutes. The team champions this year were Sweet Spin Music from Schroders, who peddled a total distance of 29,993m. The King of the Ride was Barry O’Sullivan who rode 6,451m and the Queen of the Ride was Emma-Lea Davis with a distance of 5,497m.

There were 16 volunteers hand to make sure the entire day ran smoothly, and we couldn’t have done it without their help. A big thank you to our sponsors AIG, as well as BOOM Cycle, whose MCs kept the crowd energised and excited.

Elizabeth Rowley, Regional Fundraiser for London, said: 'We’re so glad that this event is able to raise more vital funds for type 1 diabetes research year-on-year and hope next year’s event will be bigger and better than ever! '

11
Jun

The Duchess of Cornwall is guest of honour at type 1 diabetes charity event

The Duchess of Cornwall  was guest of honour at a special charity preview of Art Antiques London Party in the Park in support of type 1 diabetes charity JDRF.

Her Royal Highness, who became President of the charity in 2012, met guests including music icon Boy George, Hollywood and stage actor Rory Kinnear, Emmy-award winning actress Susan Hampshire, Downton Abbey creator Lord Fellowes and his wife Lady Fellowes, Olympic gold-medallist Amy Williams MBE and Olympic gold-medallist Ben Ainslie CBE. Her Royal Highness also met Home Secretary Theresa May, who announced two years ago that she had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Art Antiques London Party in the Park is an annual event held in Kensington Gardens to showcase collections of traditional and contemporary art, antiques and jewellery from more than 70 exhibitors.

Boy George treated last night's guests to a vocal performance which demonstrated the talent that has seen him sell over 50 million albums in his lifetime. 

The singer, who recently won an Ivor Novello award for outstanding contribution to British music, said: “Much of my music is about positivity and joy – and my charity work is done in the same spirit. JDRF is a special organisation supporting vital research into type 1 diabetes.”

Boy George spoke to the crowd about a the diagnosis of a close friend’s child with type 1 diabetes, saying “I get it. I see what she goes through.”
The event was staged for the type 1 diabetes charity JDRF to boost its mission to find the cure for the condition, through the support of world-class class scientific research in the UK and abroad.

The Duchess of Cornwall first became involved with the charity when she met JDRF supporters affected by type 1 diabetes in Cambridge in 2012. She has subsequently met talented JDRF-funded researchers at University College Hospital in London and at the University of Dundee.

Lord Fellowes, known to his friends as Julian, is committed to using his profile to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes and JDRF. Last year, he supported a JDRF fundraising dinner at Highclere Castle, Hampshire, where Downton Abbey is filmed. He also allowed Downton Abbey’s ‘Atticus Aldridge’ character to be named through a 2013 auction for the charity.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, said: “What a spectacularly successful evening. We are so grateful to our President, the Duchess of Cornwall, for joining us, for her ongoing and incredibly valuable support. Thank you also to everyone who came along.”

She added: “JDRF works across the UK and the wider world for a day when type 1 diabetes no longer exists. The cure will be found – it’s just a question of time, money and excellent research.” 

08
Jun

Music legend Boy George to sing for JDRF and type 1 diabetes research

New Romantic icon, artist and DJ Boy George will attend and perform at Art Antiques London Party in the Park, in Kensington on Wednesday (June 10).

The auction event will support JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity, in its mission to find the cure for type 1 diabetes.

Boy George has sold over 50 million albums and has appeared in the BBC’s 100 Greatest Britons of All Time. As well as achieving worldwide fame with Culture Club, he is one of the most influential DJs in the history of house music.

Speaking to JDRF, he said: “Much of my music is about positivity and joy – and my charity work is done in the same spirit. JDRF is a special organisation supporting vital research into type 1 diabetes.”

Michael Connellan of JDRF said: “We are utterly thrilled and very thankful to have Boy George supporting us. His support will help us raise greater national awareness of type 1 diabetes and the challenges it brings.”

Boy George is only one of a host of stars attending the June 10 event. Those who wish to support JDRF by attending the event should click here to find out more.

27
May

Duchess of Cornwall to grace JDRF event

Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall is to attend a JDRF party in her role as President of the charity.

The Duchess of Cornwall became President of JDRF in 2012 after meeting JDRF supporters affected by type 1 diabetes in Cambridge. She has subsequently shown her commitment to the role by publically meeting JDRF-funded researchers at University College Hospital in London and at the University of Dundee in Scotland. The visits garnered substantial media interest.

The visit to Dundee saw Her Royal Highness learn about the work of Professor Rory McCrimmon, who is undertaking world-leading research into ways to combat hypoglycaemia. Speaking at the time, JDRF Chief Executive Karen Addington said: “We are deeply grateful for her ongoing support as President. Her presence provided a fantastic opportunity to showcase the vital research that Professor McCrimmon and his team do.”

The Duchess of Cornwall will attend JDRF’s Art Antiques London Party in the Park, in Kensington, on June 10. Lord Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, and Emmy Award-winning actress Susan Hampshire will also be present.

Those who wish to support JDRF by attending the event should click here to find out more.

20
May

Wacky ‘Scumrun’ car rally raises an amazing £126,000 for JDRF

A spectacular four-day charity rally is on track to raise a stunning £126,000 to support JDRF's type 1 diabetes research – and has seen a lot of fun and mischief on the way.

Over 300 participants and their wacky decorated cars took part in the Scumrun car rally, which saw petrolheads drive old motors – under £500 in value – onto a ferry at Dover and then on to a Continental route that included stops at Nice, Zurich and the Nürburgring.

The launch event on May 14 in Dover was attended by celebrity ‘voice of motoring’ Sally Traffic – well known to listeners of BBC Radio 2 for her travel reports. Voted as one of the most attractive female voices on UK radio in a Radio Times poll, she said: 'I’m delighted to be supporting the tenth year of Scumrun for JDRF!  I’ve heard many adventurous travel tales as my time as a traffic broadcaster.  This is a great opportunity for people to have theirs – all while raising money for an important cause.'

Louise Ingham of JDRF said: 'Thank you so much to the Scumrun organisers, participants, Sally Traffic and all those who helped raise this phenomenal amount.'

12
May

Seasonal switch: Genes behind type 1 diabetes turn on and off across the year

JDRF researchers at the University of Cambridge have found evidence that our immune systems change with the seasons – a finding that suggests a seasonal link to type 1 diabetes.

Scientists have known for some time that diagnosis rates of various conditions, including cardiovascular disease and type 1 diabetes, vary with the seasons. However, this is the first time that researchers have shown that this may be down to seasonal changes in how our immune systems function.

The study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, shows that the activity of almost a quarter of our genes differs according to the time of year, with some more active in winter and others more active in summer. This seasonality affects our immune cells and the composition of our blood and fat tissue.

‘This is a really surprising – and serendipitous – discovery as it could change how we identify the effects of the genes behind type 1 diabetes,’ said Professor John Todd, Director of the JDRF/Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research.

‘In some ways, it’s obvious – it helps explain why so many diseases, from heart disease to mental illness, are much worse in the winter months – but no one had appreciated the extent to which this actually occurred. The implications for how we treat conditions like type 1 diabetes, and even how we plan our research studies, could be profound.’

An international team, led by researchers from the JDRF/Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory, examined blood samples from over 16,000 people living in both the northern and southern hemispheres, in countries including the UK, USA, Iceland, Australia and The Gambia.

They found that thousands of genes were either more or less active depending on what time of year the samples were taken. One gene known as ARNTL was particularly interesting as previous studies have found that this gene suppresses inflammation, the body’s response to infection. The gene was found to be less active in winter, suggesting levels of inflammation should be higher during those months. Inflammation is a risk factor for a range of diseases – including autoimmune conditions such as type 1 – so it may be that in winter, the 'threshold' at which these conditions could be triggered could be more easily reached in those at greatest risk. 

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, said: ‘We have long known there are more diagnoses of type 1 diabetes in winter. This study begins to reveal why. It identifies a biological mechanism we didn’t previously know of, which leaves the body seasonally more prone to the autoimmune attack seen in type 1 diabetes.’

‘While we all love winter sun, flying south for the whole of each winter isn’t something anyone can practically recommend as a way of preventing type 1 diabetes. But this new insight does open new avenues of research that could help untangle the complex web of genetic and environmental factors behind a diagnosis.’

Image: Four Seasons from Wikimedia Commons user Bdk, used under a Creative Commons licence.

27
Apr

JDRF announced as main charity partner for Great Scottish Events

JDRF is delighted to have been announced as the main charity partner for Great Scottish Events this summer.

The event takes place on Sunday 21 June 2015 at Holyrood Park, and allows JDRF supporters to have exclusive FREE ENTRY to any of the events on the day by pledging to raise a minimum of £50 for JDRF. Join the JDRF team today by registering here.

The events on the day include a fantastic mixture of runs and walks for all ages and abilities.  These include:

  • Great Scottish Summer Runs 5k & 10k – Start time 9.30am
  • The Great Scottish Walk 20k – Start time 10.00am
  • The Great Scottish Walk 10k – Start time 11am
  • The Golden Mile Walk – Start time 11.30am (Walk or stroll one, two, or three miles – you choose the distance)
  • The Great Scottish Toddle – Start time 1pm (For children under six years of age with infants in buggies also welcome)

This promises to be a fantastic day out for the whole family with plenty of food and entertainment available on the day – why not grab the picnic blanket and the whole family and have a day out with activities available for kids of any age, teenagers, parents and grandparents to get involved in.

It really doesn’t matter what level of ability you have, there’s an activity for beginners up to advanced runners and walkers. To make it all worthwhile, you’re not only raising money for JDRF but you’ll also get a medal and a goody bag when you cross the finish lines.

To take part and secure one of JDRF’s free entry places click here to register for the event and pledge to raise a minimum of £50 sponsorship to help support type 1 diabetes research.

Once you have registered for the event we will be in touch and will provide you with a JDRF fundraising pack to help you raise as much money to help us find the cure for type 1 diabetes.

For more information about the event get in touch with Catriona Morrice, Senior Fundraiser at [email protected] or on 07908 155481.

23
Apr

Immune research targets causes of type 1 diabetes

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have identified a new way in which our immune systems are regulated – a discovery that could help us tackle the causes of type 1 diabetes.

Normally, the immune system carefully controls its response to infection and disease to avoid damaging other parts of the body. However, in autoimmune conditions such as type 1, the immune system becomes less well-regulated, allowing it to attack healthy cells and organs as though they were infections.  

This new study looked at why this happens. The team discovered a mechanism that determines whether immune cells can move from the blood into healthy tissue. They believe a failure of this regulation process could contribute to autoimmune conditions such as type 1 and rheumatoid arthritis.

In particular, the researchers saw how one molecule is vital to this whole mechanism. By adding the molecule to immune cells from people with either of these two conditions, the team were able to regain control of the immune cells, stopping them from entering healthy organs in the body.

Professor Ed Rainger, from the University of Birmingham, explained: ‘Our discovery of this new regulatory pathway is very exciting. Not only does it reveal new ways in which our bodies control inflammation, it also indicates that we may be able design new drugs to reverse the loss of this pathway.’

He added: ‘The fact that the new pathway is relevant to both type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, which are quite different conditions, implies a broad applicability to many chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.’

The researchers now hope to test their findings by running clinical trials of drugs that can target this mechanism. If successful, such treatments could be used to disrupt the immune attack that causes type 1, potentially forming part of a cure for the condition.

The research was published in the journal Nature Medicine.

16
Apr

Thanks, America – massive $300m investment for type 1 diabetes research agreed by US government

The US Senate has passed legislation for a huge $300m (£200m) funding pot for type 1 diabetes research.

In a boost for JDRF’s mission to find the cure for type 1 diabetes, US Senators approved the country’s Special Diabetes Program (SDP) for two additional years.

This ensures $150m (£100m) can be spent in each of the next two years supporting cutting-edge type 1 diabetes research through the country’s National Institutes of Health.

President Obama is shortly expected to sign the funding into law at the White House.

The Special Diabetes Program has been funded by the US since 1998. Since its inception it has demonstrated results in type 1 diabetes research and has enabled scientists to make significant advances in prevention studies and treatment improvements. These have included the artificial pancreas project.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive at JDRF in the UK, said: 'The renewal of the Special Diabetes Program is excellent news for type 1 diabetes research globally. We congratulate the thousands JDRF of supporters across the United States for approaching their local senators and representatives about why they most vote to renew it.'

She added: 'With our #CountMeIn campaign, JDRF in the UK is calling on candidates standing for the 2015 General Election to take inspiration from across the Atlantic, and to commit to supporting type 1 diabetes medical research if they are elected.'

Join us – learn more about the #CountMeIn campaign.

14
Apr

Researchers harness 'nothing to see here' protein to improve cell transplants

JDRF researchers have found a protein that can protect insulin-producing beta cells from the immune system, potentially paving the way for beta cell transplants that don’t require anti-rejection drugs.

Professor Mark Poznansky and his team at Massachusetts General Hospital had been studying the protein, known as CXCL12, for many years because of its role in the immune system. It has a repellent effect that drives immune cells away from the area where they are produced so that they can fight infection in the rest of the body.

The team then turned this effect on its head, using the protein to repel the immune cells from the beta cells they mistakenly try to attack in type 1 diabetes. When they encased beta cells in a gel coating that contained the protein, and implanted them into mice with type 1, the researchers found the mice produced their own insulin for at least 300 days. This was over 6 times longer than in mice where the cells’ gel coating did not contain any of the protein.

If the work continues to prove successful, it could be used alongside JDRF beta cell research (such as that announced by Professor Doug Melton in October last year), to generate large numbers of implantable, insulin-producing cells that are kept safe from the immune system. This concept, known as encapsulation, would offer people with type 1 the opportunity to regain their insulin-producing cells, eliminating the need for insulin injections and carb counting.

Commenting on the finding, Professor Poznansky said: ‘The encouraging picture painted by our studies to date has led us to the next step in our research. JDRF is now funding a 2-year pilot study to investigate whether this approach of including CXCL12 in the gel capsule will work when greater numbers of capsules are implanted into larger animals.’

He continued: ‘One of the most exciting aspects of CXCL12 is that, if the protein proves safe and effective, its applications could go beyond use in encapsulated cell therapies: it might also be useful in developing drugs to block the autoimmune attack on still-active beta cells in the early stage of the condition, slowing or ultimately preventing the progression to insulin dependency.’

The research was published in the American Journal of Transplantation.

27
Mar

Injection of millions: massive investment follows Dr Melton’s stunning stem cell research breakthrough for type 1 diabetes

You’d be forgiven for suspecting that things sometimes go a bit quiet after global headlines shout about a type 1 diabetes research breakthrough.

But JDRF’s Harvard hero Doug Melton, whose work turning stem cells into insulin-producing beta cells made worldwide news last October, has announced two massive new business collaborations designed to bring his research to fruition sooner.

The first, which has raised £30 million from several companies including Medtronic, will aim to develop beta cells that can be transplanted into the body.  In type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys these insulin-producing beta cells, so a procedure that could give them back to people could mean an end to insulin injections and blood glucose testing. It’s why we, too, are funding Dr Melton as part of our encapsulation research.

The second collaboration, a partnership with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, will see researchers study the beta cells to learn more about their biology, giving us new insights into how type 1 diabetes develops. The cells will also be tested against many of the drugs developed by AstraZeneca, to see if any could be used to cure or even prevent the condition.

Until now, beta cell research in both of these fields had been hindered by a lack of donated pancreases, and by the more lengthy process normally used to grow the cells in the lab. Work by Melton, and by other JDRF-funded researchers such as Timothy Kieffer, should therefore help speed up the process of turning lab-based discoveries into treatments for people with type 1 diabetes.

Dr Clare McVicker, Director of Research Advocacy at JDRF in the UK, said: ‘A £30m investment is a huge stamp of approval for Dr Melton’s research. Business only backs scientific developments when it sees true potential – and this could change type 1 diabetes treatment globally.’

Read more about Dr Melton here.

09
Mar

Behind the headlines: 'more children showing early signs of diabetes complications'

The media is reporting that 'more children are showing early signs of serious diabetes complications.'

These headlines – clearly alarming for parents of children with type 1 diabetes – stem from today’s release of the National Paediatric Diabetes Audit.

The report actually shows that long-term blood glucose control among UK children with type 1 diabetes is improving, not worsening, and this fact behind the headlines is heartening. The increase in children showing early indications of future potential complications is instead due to the fact that increasing number of children are developing the condition. Individual children with the condition are not increasingly at risk.

Of further reassurance to families affected by type 1 diabetes is the fact (stated by the report itself) that early signs of eye, kidney and foot complications in children can be reversed by good control of blood glucose levels.

Sarah Johnson, Director of Policy and Communications at type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, admitted aspects of the report were concerning. She said: 'Although we’re pleased to see an increase in the number of children achieving in-range blood glucose control, we are alarmed by the numbers showing signs of complications at such a young age. Improvements in treatment and early interventions to prevent these complications need to be prioritised urgently by the NHS, and healthcare professionals must be given the help and resource they need to help their young patients manage a serious, life-long condition.'

Some of the media headlines also focused on a detail of the report that stated 'one in four children over the age of 12 who have type 1 diabetes are classed as obese.'

She added: 'We also need to remember that obesity is not a cause of type 1 diabetes. Children with type 1 diabetes have similar rates of obesity as children in the general population – they don’t live in a bubble and are subject to all of the influences and issues that affect their friends and classmates.  Absolutely weight is a factor in helping achieve good blood glucose control, but nothing these children did, or did not do, caused their immune system to attack their pancreas.'

06
Mar

JDRF boss wins UK Charity Leader of the Year after spectacular 12 months of success for type 1 diabetes research

JDRF’s Chief Executive in the UK, Karen Addington, has been crowned Charity Leader of the Year 2015 for her inspirational and successful leadership of the type 1 diabetes charity.

Karen beat 800 other nominees from across the UK to the Charity Staff Foundation’s award, receiving it at a prestigious ceremony yesterday evening in central London.

She said: “I’m delighted to accept this award on behalf of JDRF’s amazing supporters throughout the UK and the wider world. 2014 was a very special year for breakthroughs in the type 1 diabetes research that we fund.”

Karen added: “The most brilliant non-profit organisations always have much in common with the most successful businesses – and vice-versa. They combine head and heart; strict efficiency and focus, alongside real passion for meeting people’s needs. Families affected by type 1 diabetes need a cure. The day will come.”

Reacting to her award, Mark Flannagan, CEO of Beating Bowel Cancer, described Karen as “one of the sector’s outstanding achievers, fiercely focused on improving the lives of people with type 1 diabetes, who has transformed the charity and the sector.  She's a great team leader on top of it, someone to be emulated.”

Karen’s Charity Leader of the Year award comes after a spectacular 12 months for supporters of the charity both in the UK and internationally, in which:

06
Feb

Behind the headlines: The Daily Mail – fact or fail?

The Daily Mail this morning reported the results of a study from the Lancet under the headline ‘Women with type 1 diabetes are 40 per cent more likely early to die than men with the disease’.

Yet as many people rightly pointed out in the article comments, this headline is somewhat misleading. It could lead people to think that women with type 1 diabetes more often die much younger than men with the condition. This is not the case.

It’s well-known that, on average, women live longer than men. However, in people who have type 1, both men and women have similar lifespans. This means that the effect of type 1 diabetes on lifespan is more pronounced in women than in men ­– this is where the Mail’s 40 per cent statistic comes from. The effect on women is 40 per cent bigger than the effect on men, which amounts to both men and women living a similar amount of time.

The same is true for the other statistics – women tend have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and stroke than men, so if type 1 puts both genders at a similar level, then the effect of having the condition is much bigger for women. They are not, as the Mail suggests, 37 per cent more likely to die of a stroke than men; it is that the effect for women is 37 per cent greater.

In addition, the overall effect of type 1 diabetes upon mortality is getting less and less every year. Last month, we reported a study that showed that people with type 1 are living longer than ever before, and we are funding numerous projects such as AdDIT to combat the threat of complications.

Despite this, both the Mail article and the Lancet study highlight an important point – women with type 1 are being more strongly affected by the condition than men, and we need to address this discrepancy. Studies have found that women have slightly higher HbA1c levels over their lifetimes, and as long-term hyperglycaemia raises the risk of complications, this could contribute to the difference.

Better treatments to support glucose management – including smart insulins and the artificial pancreas – would go a long way towards reducing the impact of type 1 on everyone.

Sarah Johnson, Director of Policy and Communications at JDRF, said: ‘We know that research has shown young girls and women with the condition are more likely to have poorer blood glucose control than their male counterparts. Whatever the reasons are behind that, what’s certain is that every single early death linked to type 1 diabetes is unacceptable.’

She added: 'One day, the cure will be found. To get there, we need research to be better supported.'

05
Feb

Inhaled insulin launches in the US

Afrezza, the inhaled insulin developed by MannKind and licensed to pharmaceutical company Sanofi, has gone on sale in America this week. This means that American adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can now get Afrezza on prescription as a bolus insulin.

However, the drug is not yet approved for people outside the US, for children or for people with chronic lung conditions.

Afrezza is taken using a thumb-sized inhaler at the start of the meal, and passes through the lungs into the bloodstream. The peak insulin level in the blood occurs around 12-15 minutes after use, making it more similar to insulin produced naturally by the pancreas in people without type 1. Most ‘rapid’ insulins peak 30-90 minutes after use.

This 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 it at meals to fine tune their blood glucose levels, alongside the slower-acting insulin being given by the artificial pancreas. This led to smaller blood glucose level peaks at mealtimes.

An additional benefit of the drug is that it could be used as by people who do not want to inject insulin. Pierre Chancel, Senior Vice President of Sanofi’s Diabetes Division, commented: ‘There is a recognized need for an insulin that doesn't require an injection, and our organization is committed to making this new treatment option available to patients.’

We previously covered Afrezza in June 2014 when it was approved for sale by the FDA, making it the only inhaled insulin on the market. A previous inhaled insulin developed by Pfizer, called Exubera, was withdrawn after poor sales and suggestions of an increased risk of lung cancer.

03
Feb

Behind the headlines: a probiotic cure for diabetes?

This morning, the Daily Express ran a headline saying ‘Breakthrough pill can CURE diabetes: New drug fights both types of killer disease’. So is it true, can a pill now cure both type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Sadly, no. But the study behind the headline is really interesting.

Researchers at Cornell University, led by Professor John March, have developed a ‘probiotic’ pill containing modified bacteria that are typically found in the human gut and given them to rats with diabetes.

Central to the story is a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1, better known as GLP-1. GLP-1 helps to regulate the body’s response to glucose in a meal. It does this by blocking the production of glucagon, so that glucagon does not act to raise glucose levels in the blood still further.

Professor March’s team engineered bacteria so that they would produce GLP-1, then gave a group of diabetic rats feed supplemented with this new ‘probiotic’ and compared them with a group of diabetic rats with un-supplemented feed. Rats given the supplemented feed developed insulin producing cells in their gut – some of the regular gut cells were ‘reprogrammed’ to make insulin. This meant that they showed significant increases in their insulin levels and the research teams estimated that these cells were sufficient to produce up to 33 per cent of a healthy rat’s insulin capacity.

So while this study does not herald a cure for type 1 diabetes, it does show that GLP-1 may have an important role to play in improving treatment for people with the condition.

GLP-1, and molecules that mimic its effect (known as GLP-1 agonists), have been widely researched in type 2 diabetes, and there are now a number of GLP-1 agonists available to help in treating type 2 diabetes. But these drugs have only recently started being investigated in type 1 diabetes – thanks in part to funding from JDRF.

Rachel Connor, Head of Research Communication at JDRF comments: ‘The Cornell team’s study adds to our understanding of the role GLP-1 and also demonstrates a novel way of increasing GLP-1 levels in the body. It’ll be interesting to see whether the same effects can be observed in humans with diabetes.’

02
Feb

JDRF researchers discover cell behind type 1 diabetes

Researchers at London’s Royal Free Hospital have found the immune system cell responsible for triggering the destruction of insulin-producing cells in type 1 diabetes.

Their finding could lead to new treatments that target this triggering process, potentially offering a way to cure or even prevent the condition.

Type 1 occurs when the body’s own immune system, which is meant to fight off diseases, attacks the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Previous research has found that T cells, part of the immune system, are behind the attack, but this is the first time researchers have identified the specific kind of T cell involved.

The London team, led by Professor Lucy Walker, studied T cells from people with and people without type 1. They found that samples from people with type 1 contained much higher levels of molecules associated with a kind of T cell known as a ‘follicular helper T cell’.

These cells have previously been implicated in other autoimmune conditions such as lupus, but this is the first time they have been identified as being behind the autoimmune attack in type 1.

“Knowing more about the type of T cell that causes type 1 is definitely good news for future treatments” said Professor Walker. “It provides us with a new way of thinking about the cells that are causing the problem, and may allow us to develop different ways of interfering with them.”

While the discovery offers potential for research into a cure for type 1, it could also support research into preventing the condition, explained Professor Walker: “Measuring the level of this specific type of T cell in the blood could turn out to be a way of assessing someone's risk of developing type 1 ­– this is an idea we'd like to explore in the future.”

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

06
Jan

People with type 1 diabetes living longer, healthier lives

JDRF-funded researchers at the University of Dundee have found that people with type 1 diabetes are living longer than ever before.

While previous estimates have suggested that type 1 can reduce life expectancy by 15-20 years, Professor Helen Colhoun and her colleagues found this gap had narrowed to 11 years for men and 13 years for women. The difference was even smaller for older adults, reaching single digits for people aged 50-54.

Overall, life expectancy for people with type 1 has improved tremendously in just the last 40 years. In 1975, the difference between people with and without type 1 was almost 30 years, shrinking to less than 20 years in the 1990s.

However, the study shows that there are still improvements to be made, which is why JDRF continues to fund research into complications. AdDIT, a trial being run at the University of Cambridge, aims to prevent young people from developing heart and kidney diseases – highlighted by the Scottish research as two of the biggest factors that reduce life expectancy.

Better treatments, too, have an important effect. While good blood glucose control is encouraged at all ages, a US study also released today found good glucose management early on after diagnosis can give people with type 1 longer, healthier lives. JDRF-funded research into glucose control treatments such as the artificial pancreas and smart insulin is designed to make this challenging job, much easier.

Both the Scottish and American studies were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

10
Dec

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.