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All news

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


Type 1 more common in Sweden than previously thought

Up to three times more Swedish young people are being diagnosed with type 1 than current estimates suggest, according to new research.

The finding suggests that other countries, including the UK, could also be undercounting the number of people with the condition.

Sweden is already known to have the world’s second highest incidence of under-15s with type 1, with 43 new diagnoses made per 100,000 children every year. In common with many other countries, this rate is increasing while the rate in adults has remained comparatively low and stable.

However, the numbers are based on two different sources: the Swedish Childhood Diabetes Register, which covers under-15s, and the Diabetes Incidence Study in Sweden (DISS), for people from 15 to 34 years old.

The new study, led by Dr Araz Rawshani of the Swedish National Diabetes Register, used another method to count the number of people with type 1. It looked at the prescribed drugs register for people who had been prescribed insulin, but never given oral glucose-lowering drugs (which are used for people with type 2 diabetes).

Although the prescription rate among under-15s matched the official rate almost exactly, there was a big difference for other age groups – for example, almost three times as many 15 to 19-year olds were being prescribed insulin as were being recorded in the DISS.

This suggests that there are many young people with type 1 who are not being recorded in the official statistics – which has implications for monitoring, research and even funding decisions in the future.

Earlier this year, JDRF launched #CountMeIn – the campaign to get more Government funding for type 1 research. If the number of people with type 1 is even higher than estimates suggest, this makes funding type 1 research more important than ever.

Dr Rawshani noted that this was an important finding, not just for Sweden, but for other countries around the world: ‘We now have a simple method to monitor [the condition] on a nationwide scale, but many more multinational efforts are needed to resolve the conundrum of type 1 diabetes.’

The research was published in the journal Diabetologia.


Aberdeen Circus Ball raises £105,000 for JDRF

Aberdeen maintained its impressive fundraising record on 22 March when the ninth JDRF Gala Ball in Aberdeen, held at The Marcliffe Hotel & Spa, raised £105,000 on the night.

The evening was circus themed, and guests were welcomed and entertained throughout the evening by fire jugglers, stilt walkers, balloon modellers, showgirls and dancing from the Scott School of Dancing.

After the drinks reception, guests moved up to the ballroom where their host, radio and television personality Grant Stott, welcomed them. The ballroom, decked out in the style of a big top tent in red and white, looked stunning. Attendees heard from Michelle Vivers, whose son Jaxon was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 22 months old. Michelle spoke movingly about the impact that type 1 has on Jaxon. The raffle was drawn and then we were underway with the live auction.

Dr Tim Tree, Senior Lecturer at King’s College, London also spoke. Dr Tree gave a fascinating speech on his work to reset the immune system. He and his team are working to stop the immune system destroying beta cells that are still being produced in bodies of those with type 1 diabetes. This would also allow beta cell transplants to take place and be a cure for those with type 1. Lot 13 was then auctioned, with guests pledging donations towards this research project.

By the end of the night a staggering £105,000 had been raised. Thank you so much to all of you who attended, donated and volunteered and to our very generous corporate sponsors.

Catriona Morrice, Regional Fundraiser for JDRF Scotland, said:

‘JDRF Scotland would like to thank everyone who attended the Circus Ball, kindly donated prizes and volunteered their time on the evening. Together with the hard work of the ball committee in organising the event, everyone helped to make the evening such a fantastic success. A huge thank you to our corporate sponsors whose support and generosity was invaluable on the night. We really would not have been able to achieve any of this without everyone’s support.’

We look forward to seeing you at the Aberdeen Ball in 2015!

Tickets are still available for the Circus Ball in Edinburgh on 7 June 2014. Click here to find out more and purchase tickets »

This is an edited version of an article that appears in the next issue of JDRF's magazine, Type 1 Discovery. To sign up for a year's free subscription, click here »

You can few photos from the evening in the Flickr album below


JDRF would like to thank the following sponsors for their kind support:

Gold Sponsor

Silver Sponsor

Theme Sponsor

Drinks Reception Sponsor

Media Partner

Table Gifts

John Thompson

Bidding System

Taylor's Auctioneers Montrose

Table Decorations

Eden Creative Florists


US Government approves $150 million research program in support of type 1 diabetes

The US Senate has approved a one year extension of a major type 1 diabetes research programme.

The fresh investment of $150 million into the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), announced this month, will help scientists continue their vital work into type 1 diabetes research.

The SDP was formed in 1997 after it saw serious limitations in research for type 1 diabetes in particular. It is a core component of US Government investment into the condition and since its inception, has helped researchers make significant advances in better treating, preventing and one day curing type 1 diabetes.

While JDRF warmly welcomes this announcement from across the Atlantic, it is unfortunate that UK Government investment into type 1 diabetes is in decline.

JDRF as a charity – and our wonderful supporters – are doing our bit and we want the UK Government to do theirs. #CountMeIn is a major new campaign led by JDRF, looking to push type 1 diabetes research up the UK Government’s agenda.

Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of JDRF said: “The #CountMeIn campaign focuses on the personal impact of type 1 diabetes. Whether it’s counting carbohydrates in food, counting blood glucose levels or counting insulin to inject– those living with type 1 diabetes must manage their condition constantly.

“That’s why they deserve action from the UK Government. Our message to Westminster can be much louder with the voices of thousands of people affected by type 1 diabetes in the UK behind us. Please join and spread the word about the #CountMeIn campaign.”

Learn more about the #CountMeIn campaign.


Cricket legend Alec Stewart says #CountMeIn to JDRF’s campaign

Cricket legend Alec Stewart is going into bat for JDRF – by getting behind its major new #CountMeIn campaign for type 1 diabetes research.

Former England captain Alec is one of the game’s greatest ever wicketkeepers, and is the country’s most-capped Test cricketer. As the current Director of Cricket for Surrey, Alec is preparing for the County Championship season getting underway on April 6.

But that hasn’t stopped him getting behind JDRF’s #CountMeIn campaign, which calls for greater investment from the Government into research to treat, prevent and find the cure for the condition.

Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “Since we launched the #CountMeIn campaign earlier this month, people affected by type 1 diabetes have been pledging their support from right across the UK.

“With icons from the worlds of sport and entertainment also saying #CountMeIn, the campaign is building real momentum. Thanks so much to Alec Stewart for his generous ongoing support.”

Please join JDRF alongside Alec, and help push our #CountMeIn campaign up the Government’s agenda. Our message to Westminster will be much louder with your support behind us.


Medtronic opens registration for its Junior Cup football championship

Insulin pump manufacturer Medtronic has opened registration for its Junior Cup Diabetes 2014. Established in 2007, the Medtronic Junior Cup is a football championship for boys and girls with type 1 diabetes.

The event this year will take place in August, in Arnhem in the Netherlands. Competition to be crowned World Champions will be tough, with over 150 children from 12 countries taking part.

To enter, Medtronic's competition criteria state that you need to be between 10 and 14, be an insulin pump user, have never participated in the Junior Cup Diabetes before and be available to travel to the Netherlands for 22-24 August (three days and two nights). Registration closes on 30 June.

To enter, visit Medtronic’s website and fill out an application form »


Glamorous Downton Abbey dinner raises funds for JDRF and National Osteoporosis Society

Downton Abbey stars took a break from shooting for the show’s much-anticipated fifth season with a charity dinner in support of JDRF.

Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern (who play Lord and Lady Grantham), Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt (Mr and Mrs Bates) and Jim Carter (Mr Carson) graced the event on 27 March, which was also staged in support of the National Osteoporosis Society.

140 guests dined exclusively in the Library of Highclere Castle, the Hampshire stately home now known globally by its fictional name of Downton Abbey. JDRF supporter Lord Julian Fellowes, the show’s creator, was in attendance with his wife Lady Emma Kitchener. Iconic actress and JDRF patron Lady Susan Hampshire OBE was also present.

The real-life owners of Highclere Castle, The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, kindly hosted the party. All proceeds from the evening went to both charities and an incredible total of £172,000 has been raised so far.

With the show currently set in the Roaring Twenties, dinner guests were transported back to this era of glitz and glamour. Guests were able to bid on exclusive and unique prizes in a silent auction that included Lady Cora’s tiara and Lady Edith’s earrings as biddable items. A live auction was later hosted by Downton’s well-loved Jim Carter.

Karen Addington, CEO of JDRF said: “We are immensely grateful to The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon for hosting such a wonderful evening and supporting our mission to treat, prevent and eventually cure type 1 diabetes. Our warmest thanks also go to Lord and Lady Fellowes, Susan Hampshire, and all who supported the event.”

Lord Fellowes – whose full title is the Lord Fellowes of West Stafford – is a strong supporter of both type 1 diabetes and osteoporosis issues. It has been reported that a future Downton Abbey episode could feature a character who is affected by type 1 diabetes.


“#BloodSugarSelfie saved my life” says JDRF supporter

A JDRF supporter has claimed that the #BloodSugarSelfie phenomenon – which has raised thousands of pounds for the charity – has saved her life.

#BloodSugarSelfie was launched last weekend to highlight the struggles people with diabetes go through every day and to raise money for JDRF’s mission to better treat, prevent and cure type 1 diabetes.

Following in the footsteps of the #NoMakeupSelfie campaign for cancer research, it saw people living with diabetes posting photos of themselves alongside a reading from their blood glucose monitor, accompanying this with a text donation to JDRF.

23-year-old Rachel Barnes, who lives with type 1 diabetes, joined in the cause to find that her blood glucose level was a dangerously high 32.6 mmol/L. People with diabetes are advised to try and keep their blood glucose levels between 4 and 7 mmol/L. Such an extremely high reading placed Rachel at risk of entering diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be fatal.

The beauty therapist from Glasgow revealed on Twitter: "#BloodSugarSelfie actually just saved my life as I wasn't going to do my sugars as I felt fine. Awful result."

Despite their best efforts, the blood glucose levels of people with diabetes are not always perfect and episodes of hypoglycaemia, hyperglycemia and in extreme cases DKA can develop. 

More than 800 #BloodSugarSelfie photos have been posted on social network sites since the initiative was launched by As well as increasing general awareness of diabetes, over £3,800 has been raised in total for JDRF.

Karen Addington, CEO of JDRF, said: “Rachel’s story 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: “Thanks to for creating this superb campaign and supporting our mission to better treat, prevent and one day cure type 1 diabetes.”

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 DCUK14 £5 to 70070. The £5 can be changed to anything between £1 and £10.


Diabetes no longer the leading cause of blindness

JDRF has long funded research into treating and preventing eye complications, from studies looking at genetic susceptibility, to our multi-million dollar collaboration with the UK company KalVista, which is developing a treatment for diabetic macular oedema.

Now, research from Moorfields Eye Hospital in London has found that eye conditions related to diabetes are no longer the most common cause of blindness in England and Wales – and suggest a focus on research is behind the fall.

The researchers, led by Dr Gerald Liew, looked at the number of people being registered as severely sight impaired or blind in both 1999 and 2009, and found that the proportion of people whose visual impairment was caused by diabetic retinopathy or maculopathy fell from 18% to 14%.

Over the same period, the proportion of people being registered as blind due to hereditary retinal disorders increased from 16% to 20%.

This makes it the first time since at least 1963 that diabetes-related eye conditions were not the most common cause of blindness in England and Wales, and it comes despite an overall rise in the number of people with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2.

This suggests that screening programmes and better treatments are having a marked effect on the progression of diabetes-related eye conditions, with the researchers noting that: “A prolonged focus on prevention and treatment of diabetic eye disease has most likely contributed to the decline in blindness certifications from this disorder among working age adults.”

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: "This progress on tackling diabetes-related eye conditions is really positive news - congratulations to all JDRF supporters and researchers, who have played a genuine part in making it happen. But if we are to accelerate this sight-saving progress, the Government must play its part. UK Government investment into type 1 diabetes research has actually fallen by £3 million since 2009."

The research was published in the journal BMJ Open.


Team of nine to cycle from Northampton to Bath in aid of JDRF

A team of nine are taking on the challenge of cycling the 116 miles from Northampton to Bath over a day and a half to raise money for JDRF.

James Gribble, James Downey, Alistair Mayer, Jack Newman, John Austin, Tony Entwistle, Tom Morgan, James Brough and Carlton Strowbridge from Fed3 Projects in Northampton have timed the ride to coincide with the Bath Rugby vs Northampton Saints rugby fixture on Friday 2 May 2014. They plan to leave the Northampton Saints' Franklins Gardens rugby ground early on 1 May and arrive at Bath Rugby’s ground the Rec at 1pm match day.

Money raised from the feat will go towards JDRF's work to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes, as well as to Help for Heroes and the Bath Rugby Foundation. They have set a fundraising target of £5,000 for their chosen charities and have already raised over £2,000. Team member John Austin put JDRF forward as one of the chosen charities as his daughter has had type 1 diabetes since the age of four.

John said: 'My daughter Francesca has had type 1 diabetes since the age of four. She is now 14, and in this period we have seen many advances in technology and research to help deal with the consequences and treatment of type 1 diabetes. My wife and I have helped to raise money for JDRF previously and want to help again to help raise funds.'

You can find out more about their challenge and donate on their JustGiving page.


From ‘Patient’ to ‘Person’ – rethinking the way we treat people with diabetes

From 5 to 7 March 2014, diabetes specialists from across the country came together in Liverpool for the 2014 Diabetes UK Professional Conference. Alongside new technology and research announcements, one of the big themes to emerge from the three-day event was the importance of putting the person – not just their diabetes – at the heart of their treatment.

Right from the first day, this was clear: a workshop hosted by Dr Eleanor Kennedy, of the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation, and Professor Jane Speight, Director of The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, provided researchers with the opportunity to learn how to adapt their language to suit a non-academic audience. The suggestion to avoid jargon was met with general agreement, but there was much more debate over words such as ‘control’ and ‘compliance’. These words are common to scientific papers, but are they unfair to the person with diabetes?

Professor Speight referred to Diabetes Australia’s position statement on language: a condition like diabetes can never easily be ‘controlled’ when there are so many external factors that affect it; using the word suggests the person should be able to manage their diabetes, and is to blame if things go wrong. ‘Compliance’ is similar – the person may not be matching the expectations of their healthcare professional, but the word implies this is the person’s fault, even if the guidance they receive is poor, or if there are difficult circumstances.

A later discussion hosted by Professor Stephen Greene of the University of Dundee asked whether we should be giving more or less flexibility to people receiving treatment for their diabetes, in terms of pumps and training styles. Some argued that we don’t give a choice of treatment for other conditions, but others countered that having a self-managed condition means that people need to be motivated – and everyone responds differently to different motivations.

The following day, JDRF-funded researcher Professor Colin Dayan of Cardiff University highlighted the importance of clinical trials to people with type 1. Just 5% of people with type 1 take part in a trial, but these trials are leading us to advances such as the artificial pancreas and drug treatments for type 1. He asked what might make people more likely to take part in trials – is it a question of wanting to know the risks, or is it simply that people aren’t being told about trials?

Dr Tim Tree, another JDRF-funded researcher, working at King’s College London, showed us how type 1 research has come along in his lifetime, offering his perspective both as someone with type 1 and as a researcher. When he was young, it was only possible to find out if someone had autoantibodies, or not. Now several different types have been discovered and it is known that having more than one kind heightens the risk of developing type 1. Forty years ago, it was discovered  that type 1 was an autoimmune condition; now Dr Tree is researching the mechanisms behind the immune system’s attack on the pancreas, isolating and characterising the cells responsible both for preventing and for leading the process.

Finally, a session on the artificial pancreas (a device that uses CGM readings to instruct an insulin pump to deliver the correct amount of insulin) announced some promising results. Dr Roman Hovorka, who is funded by JDRF and Diabetes UK and is leading the University of Cambridge artificial pancreas team, hopes to publish these later in the year. He also showed off the next generation prototype artificial pancreas – which uses an Android phone – which would make it much more portable for the people using it.

But the session went beyond the usual statistics such as HbA1c levels, including a talk from Dr Kath Barnard of the University of Southampton, who is tracking the psychological impact of the technology. She has seen how the artificial pancreas can improve the sleep and overall wellbeing of both the trial participants and their parents, and says that the majority of people on the trial are positive about its benefits – once more highlighting the importance of the person in their treatment.

JDRF tweeted from the conference. To read more and see pictures of the event you can follow the story here.


A billionaire’s misunderstanding of diabetes is highlighted in Sunday Times letter from JDRF CEO

The Sunday Times published a letter from JDRF CEO Karen Addington yesterday highlighting business tycoon Jim Ratcliffe’s unfortunate misunderstanding of diabetes.

The March 9 article entitled ‘union-busting tycoon tackles obese children’ includes a quote from Mr. Ratcliffe saying: “childhood diabetes didn’t exist when I was growing up. It was an old man’s disease. But now lots of kids have diabetes. They are eating so much sugar that by the time they are 16, the pancreas is giving up the ghost.”

Karen Addington responded:

"He is badly misinformed. In fact, 97 per cent of UK childhood diabetes is type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune condition that cannot be prevented, and is not caused by lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.”

Almost 30,000 children in the UK live with type 1 diabetes and must take insulin every day, via multiple injections or a pump, simply to stay alive. There is nothing that they or their parents could have done to avoid their condition.” 

His words were particularly unfortunate given the number of children – and sometimes their parents – who receive comments from others who mistakenly believe they “ate too many sweets.””


JDRF T1 Youth Ambassadors organise indoor skydives that raise £9,000

JDRF puts on lots of different events throughout the year, but they don't get much more exciting than Come Fly With Us - the indoor skydive which happened on 15 March and raised a huge £9,000 to support JDRF's work to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes.

Organised by JDRF T1 Youth Ambassadors Daniel Walls, Laura Dunion and Mimi Astle, there were three events across the country, in Milton Keynes, Basingstoke and Manchester.

Indoor skydiving is just like normal skydiving, except it’s done in a giant flight chamber that’s a bit like a wind tunnel. 

A big thank you to all who took part, even Rufus who also learnt to skydive.

JDRF will be organising another Indoor Skydive on Saturday 22 November, so keep an eye on the website for more details.

To find out more about becoming a T1 Youth Ambassador, click here »


Vitamin D shortage in children at risk of type 1 diabetes

At JDRF, we are dedicated to curing, treating and preventing type 1 diabetes. This means that many of our researchers are looking for better ways to identify those at risk of developing the condition, so that we can deliver treatment as early as possible.

A new paper from a JDRF-funded study in Munich, Germany, has added to this knowledge by investigating the relationship between low vitamin D levels and type 1 diabetes, and finding a possible indirect link between the two.

Vitamin D is a hormone that is commonly found in fish oil and egg yolk, and is synthesised naturally in the body by exposure to sunlight. Historically, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to rickets and kidney failure in the elderly, but more recently, a lack of vitamin D has been linked to type 1, with some debate over the potential for dietary supplementation of vitamin D to protect against the condition.

The Munich team classified children into three groups: those with ‘pre’ type 1, based on the presence of immune cells called autoantibodies, which are a known predictor of type 1; those with type 1; and those having no autoantibodies and therefore no diabetes.

They then tested vitamin D levels in all three groups and found the group with no autoantibodies had the highest level of vitamin D, followed by the pre-type 1 and type 1 groups, respectively, suggesting that low vitamin D is more common in children with type 1 than in those without. 

Because of this, they highlight the potential for vitamin D deficiency to serve as an additional marker for risk of type 1.

This difference was only significant in the summer, when vitamin D levels rose in children without autoantibodies, but stayed low the other two groups. The researchers, led by Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, suggest that a genetic susceptibility to low vitamin D levels, combined with reduced exposure to sunlight, may be behind this difference.

They also suggest that, rather than a direct link (such as type 1 being caused by low vitamin D), the vitamin D deficiency might be caused by elevated levels of autoantibodies, which in turn is a major factor in type 1 diabetes. Indeed, the researchers noted that among the children in the pre-type 1 group, variation in vitamin D levels did not affect the rate at which they later developed type 1 diabetes. This suggests that the two factors are linked, but not causally.

As a result, this research complements JDRF’s work into the environmental triggers of type 1. The TEDDY (The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young) study is tracking the diets and illnesses of young people at high risk of developing type 1, looking for potential triggers of the condition. Research that suggests that vitamin D is not a direct cause of type 1 will help validate the work if it finds a similar result.

The research was published in the journal Diabetologia.


JDRF supporter takes on Fleet Half Marathon and raises over £2,700

A huge thank you to JDRF supporter Mark Noble, who ran the Fleet Half Marathon for JDRF on 16 March, raising a huge £2,789.

Mark completed the course in just over two hours – considered an impressive feat by runners. However, this is made all the more of an achievement considering 16 March was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures topping out at 18 degrees and that Mark only took up running a short while ago.

Initially entering the Fleet Half as a personal goal, Mark was inspired by his friends Jeremy and Lynne Sanders whose daughter, Paige, was diagnosed with type 1 two years ago, at the age of four. The response to his fundraising has been immense and Mark has raised £2,789 including gift aid.

Mark said: 'The heat and the undulating course made the running more challenging than I thought. My legs are still a bit on the sore side but well worth the pain for a very worthy cause.'


Cricket legend's daughter steps up her training for epic JDRF African adventure

The daughter of cricket legend Sir Ian Botham is stepping up her training for an epic African adventure this summer with JDRF.

Becky Botham-Armstrong, who lives with type 1 diabetes, has accepted the challenge of scaling Africa’s biggest mountain, and returning home with the satisfaction that no challenge is ever impossible.

The JDRF Climb Kilimanjaro trek is taking place from 14-24 June this year. Becky will be joined by 19 other people that live with type 1 diabetes – the largest team ever of people that live with the condition to take part in this challenge.

Fully trained medical staff will be on hand to assist during the trek, who will provide specialist advice on training tips, equipment and nutrition.

Becky was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was nine years old. She is now a mother to two small children. Speaking about her training regime for the Kilimanjaro challenge, she said: "There's a hill behind my parents' house and I'm walking up that as often as I can. It's certainly not easy balancing the demands of motherhood with the demands of my training. But I'm enjoying feeling fitter each week."

She added: "So many people don't understand type 1 diabetes and don't appreciate that it's a serious and complex condition. The fact that this Kilimanjaro trip will be a chance to inform people about the condition is helping to keep me motivated throughout my training."

You can donate online to support Becky’s challenge.

If you are inspired by Becky, why not investigate the range of other JDRF challenges that you could be a part of.


Queen approves new law to improve support in schools for children with type 1 diabetes

The Queen has today given Royal Assent to a law that requires all schools in England to make sure children with type 1 diabetes receive the care they need and deserve.

The Government responded to pressure from charities by amending the Children and Families Bill to ensure that children with medical conditions are better supported. The new law will come into effect by September 2014.

Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of JDRF, said: “Many parents have told me stories of teachers and other school staff giving superb support to their children who live with type 1 diabetes.

“But some children with type 1 diabetes are failed by the authorities as their school does not understand the day-to-day reality of managing the condition. Some face being barred from participating in school trips and other activities. This new law will ensure that pupils living with type 1 diabetes cannot be discriminated against in a way that undermines their education – or their health.”

JDRF offers a range of resources to schools on how to support pupils with type 1 diabetes in the classroom. These include our free ‘Talking T1’ primary school packs and secondary school packs.


Prime Minister announces new initiative for type 1 diabetes research funding

JDRF and Prime Minister David Cameron are supporting a major push for ground-breaking type 1 diabetes stem-cell research partnerships between the UK and Israel.

Visiting Israel this week, Mr Cameron announced the plans for BIRAX (the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership), a £10 million initiative between the Israeli government and the British Council.

BIRAX has already funded several research projects into a range of conditions and diseases taking part in British and Israeli universities, with the stipulation being that one research partner should reside and work in the UK and one in Israel. Now JDRF – along with the British Heart Foundation, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Parkinson’s UK – is supporting a new call for BIRAX funding applications from leading research scientists in the field of regenerative medicine. As the type 1 diabetes charity, JDRF will be exclusively supporting excellent quality proposals from scientists focusing on type 1 diabetes stem cell research.

Israel is a world leader in stem cell technology and other pioneering areas of regenerative medicine, a focus of all the BIRAX calls, which offer hope to better treat, prevent and one day cure type 1 diabetes as well as other conditions. JDRF has a presence in Israel and funds high quality research in the country, in line with its global strategy to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes.

 Since 2012, and JDRF’s inaugural Type 1 Parliament, JDRF has been working with people with type 1 diabetes to call on the Government to  increase funding for high quality type 1 diabetes research in the UK.  On Tuesday 11 March, children, parents and adults living with the condition again went to Parliament to highlight the drop in Medical Research Council (MRC) funding for type 1 research, which has dropped by £3million in the last four years.

Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, Karen Addington, said: “We are very pleased that the Prime Minister has today given strong vocal support to the global effort to cure type 1 diabetes. The fall in government funding for type 1 research in recent years is of grave concern and we welcome this Government action to address the decline.

“We look forward to working with British government research funding bodies on this and other initiatives to maintain the UK’s position as a global leader in type 1 diabetes research.”

Learn more about JDRF's international research programme.


New NICE guidance could recommend statins to everyone with type 1

The body that recommends treatments and drugs to the NHS has published new draft guidelines that could potentially see all adults with type 1 diabetes offered cholesterol-lowering drugs.

It comes as part of a range of changes suggested by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) that seek to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in the UK.

Currently, the cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, are only recommended for prevention of cardiovascular diseases in people who have a 20% or greater risk of developing these diseases, and there is no guidance for whether people with diabetes, either type 1 or type 2, should receive preventative statins in this way.

Now, with the new guidelines, anyone with a 10% or greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease will be offered statins, and people with type 1 (and type 2) will be offered a high intensity statin treatment – between 20 mg and 80 mg of the drug atorvastatin (also called Lipitor).

The move is controversial, as statins, like all drugs, carry a risk of side effects, and you may have read reports in the Express or the Daily Telegraph that the new guidance will expose people to this risk unnecessarily. However, these articles described the risk faced by people without diabetes, or with type 2, both of whom can also reduce their risk by eating well and exercising more.

Muscle weakening and pains have been reported in some people, and there is also evidence linking statins to an increase in blood glucose levels. A 2012 study found the use of statins by people with type 2 diabetes raised HbA1c by 0.3 percentage points – meaning someone with an HbA1c of 7.5% could find their level increased to 7.8%.

Research strongly suggests that using statins in this way does reduce the chance of someone developing cardiovascular disease, and previous JDRF research found that people with type 1 who used statins had reduced levels of calcium in their coronary arteries, which is an early marker of a person’s risk of developing coronary artery disease in later life.

We are also funding the AdDIT trial in Cambridge, which is investigating the benefits of using statins preventatively in young people with type 1.

Because of these benefits, the extra cost of prescribing statins should be offset by lower costs associated with treating cardiovascular disease. The drugs currently cost £285 million a year, while treating heart disease costs the UK £9 billion annually.

As with any medicine, a decision about statin treatment should be made with the advice of a healthcare professional, and until the guidelines come into force, there is no obligation for the NHS to fund preventative statin therapy in this way.

The draft guidelines will be assessed by healthcare professionals, government organisations and patient groups until 26 March, and if there are no significant changes to be made, they will be published in July.


Behind the headlines: Is vitamin D protective against type 1 diabetes?

You may have read an article in The Telegraph today that suggests increasing a person’s level of vitamin D could help prevent type 1 diabetes.

The main role of vitamin D in the body is to keep bones and teeth healthy and there are many benefits to ensuring that you get the recommended daily allowance. The main source of vitamin D is sunlight but it is also found in oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals.

There has been a lot of research into this topic in recent years and there is potential evidence of a link between vitamin D deficiency and a number of conditions including type 1 diabetes.

Some research has indicated that many children and teenagers with type 1 do have low vitamin D levels, and there is evidence to suggest that there is variation in genes involved with metabolism of vitamin D in young people with type 1.

Other studies have shown that vitamin D may help preserve beta cell function in people with new-onset type 1.

However, no clinical trials have yet demonstrated that adding more vitamin D to a diet can conclusively prevent type 1.

The Department of Health currently recommends:

All pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D, to ensure the mother’s requirements for vitamin D are met and to build adequate foetal stores for early infancy.

All babies and young children aged 6 months to 5 years should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D in the form of vitamin drops, to help them to meet the requirement set for this age group of 7.0-8.5 micrograms of vitamin D a day.

However, babies who are fed infant formula will not need vitamin drops until they are receiving less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as these products are fortified with vitamin D.

Breastfed infants may need to receive drops containing vitamin D from one month of age if their mother has not taken vitamin D supplements throughout pregnancy.

People aged 65 years and over and people who are not exposed to much sun should also take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D. 


Hollywood star Jude Law supports JDRF’s #CountMeIn campaign

HOLLYWOOD and West End star Jude Law has thrown his weight behind a major new JDRF campaign for type 1 diabetes research.

Jude has signed up to the #CountMeIn campaign, in support of the UK’s 400,000 people living with the condition. #CountMeIn calls for greater Government research investment to treat, prevent and find the cure for the condition.

Jude said: “Type 1 diabetes can happen to anyone. It cannot be prevented, and is not linked to lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. It is on the increase in the UK – especially in small children.

“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. As a father, I can appreciate the strain that could place on a family.”

He added: “That’s why JDRF has my full support for its #CountMeIn campaign for greater investment into type 1 diabetes research. For both children and adults with the condition, we must push forward to find the cure.”

Photo courtesy of James Appleton Photography.