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

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Audit shows impact of diabetes

22,000 'additional' people in England and Wales died last year because of diabetes and its complications, shows the National Diabetes Audit, released today. The report noted 'The years of life lost are especially notable in people with type 1 diabetes'.

The report highlighted the significantly increased risk of heart disease for people with diabetes, who are 48% more likely to have a heart attack than people without the condition. It also showed that people with diabetes were more than 25% more likely to have a stroke and twice as likely to need dialysis or need a kidney transplant.

The risk of complications from diabetes can be reduced by achieving good long term blood glucose control, however 70% of people with type 1 diabetes, including 85% of children, are not managing to keep their long term blood glucose measurement within the target range.  There is also a 'post code lottery' of access to the technologies and treatments, like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, to help manage the condition.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF, said:

'These are worrying figures for anyone with type 1 diabetes, or who has a child or loved one living with the condition and they highlight, once again, why increased investment in research to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes and its complications, and access to the treatments that come from this research is so vital.'

Find out about JDRF's work to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes, and how you can get involved with research and campaigning for increased government focus on the condition.


Improved access to insulin pumps in Scotland

JDRF welcomes the news that all eligible under eighteens with type 1 diabetes in Scotland will now have access to insulin pumps. The Scottish Government has said it is committing funding of at least £1 million to help NHS Boards deliver pumps to under eighteens who need them, as well as tripling the amount of pumps available to all people with the condition in Scotland.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement saying, ‘Insulin pumps mean freedom from having multiple insulin jabs a day - giving Scotland's youngest diabetics a normal childhood. By the end of March 2013, this treatment will be made available to the 480 children and teens struggling with type 1 diabetes who could benefit from it. Over the next three years, NHS Boards will also increase the number of insulin pumps available to all Scots to 2,000, tripling the current amount.

‘Diabetes is a growing problem for Scotland - around 10 per cent per cent of overall hospital expenditure relates to diabetes treatment and complications. Not dealing effectively with diabetes can cause long term health problems and we need to make sure that the youngest people with type 1 diabetes get the best possible treatment as early as possible.’

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF said: ‘This is good news for young people with type 1 in Scotland. Insulin pump therapy can help people manage their condition more effectively and reduce the risk of the devastating long term complications of type 1.

JDRF is focused on improving lives, until we find the cure, and we have been campaigning for some time for improved access to pumps. We are delighted that Scotland is taking the lead in providing excellent treatment for people with type 1 and we hope to see similar improvements across the rest of the UK in the future.’


Pass the parcel

Could tiny packets of stem cells help people with type 1 diabetes to produce their own insulin again? JDRF has joined forces with Viacyte, a US based biotechnology company, and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to help answer this question.

The organisations have come together to conduct preclinical testing of a first-of-its-kind cell therapy for type 1. The potential treatment is an innovative combination of cells and a special ‘packaging’ material. One of the unusual things about the therapy is that the cells, derived from embryonic stem cells, are not mature when they are packaged – rather they are immature human pancreatic hormone cells.

Initial tests have shown that once implanted, within their protective packaging, these immature cells develop into mature hormone producing cells, including the vital insulin producing beta cells that are missing in people with type 1. Tests in rodents have shown that once mature, these packets of cells are capable of regulating blood glucose levels.

Existing cell therapies such as islet and pancreas transplantation have the potential to cure type 1 by restoring normal islet function in people with the condition. But because there is a huge shortage of pancreatic islets from organ donors, it is important to find a replenishable supply of functional insulin-producing cells. This product, by using stem cells rather than tissue form organ donors could overcome this hurdle. Furthermore, packaging the cells in a device that creates a physical barrier around the cells (a process called "encapsulation") has the potential to protect the transplanted cells from immune rejection, and may eliminate the need for chronic immunosuppressive drugs.

The three-year series of preclinical studies being co-funded by JDRF will help prepare the information necessary to apply for regulatory approvals to study the system for safety and efficacy in people with type 1 diabetes.

Rachel Connor, Head of Research Communication at JDRF said ‘JDRF is excited to be working with Viacyte and CIRM on this pioneering project. Encapsulation technologies and stem cell therapies have fantastic potential in treating type 1 diabetes, so this type of innovation could be a huge step forward for people living with the condition.’


Insulin pumps in Scotland

Access to insulin pumps improves in Scotland

JDRF is delighted that the government in Scotland has recognised the need for the greater uptake of insulin pumps. We feel it’s vital that people with type 1 diabetes have access to the medicines and equipment that help them to stay healthy and manage their condition effectively whilst we search for the cure.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said, ‘The pumps can mean freedom from having multiple injections a day, and, for the youngest diabetics, can go some way to giving them back a normal childhood. I want to see insulin pumps made available to 25 per cent of children and teens with type 1 diabetes by 2013. We will also increase the number of pumps available to all Scots to over 2,000 - almost tripling the current amount over the next three years. 

‘Diabetes is a growing problem for NHS Scotland. It’s now thought that around 10 per cent per cent of overall hospital expenditure relates to the treatment of diabetes and its complications.

‘The consequences of not dealing effectively with diabetes can cause long term health problems and we need to make sure that the youngest people with type 1 diabetes get the treatment that’s right for them as early as possible.’

These plans were announced as part of the Diabetes Action Plan, which was published in August of this year. You can read the full report here.

JDRF works hard to raise awareness of the issues people with type 1 diabetes face and to ensure they have access to the best treatments and equipment to manage their condition. You can read about the campaigning work we do in more detail here.


Professionals agree: continuous glucose monitoring can help in managing type 1 diabetes

A new clinical guideline spells out that continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) can be a beneficial tool to help maintain target blood glucose levels, and limit the risk of hypoglycaemia.

The guideline was developed by the Endocrine Society, an international organisation for researchers and clinicians who work on hormone disorders like type 1 diabetes. The complete guideline is published in the current issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

A team of experts from the society reviewed all of the evidence around CGM use published to date in order to come up with the new guidelines. They found that there was high-quality evidence to recommend the use of real-time CGM in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes who are at least eight years old, and in adults with type 1 diabetes as well. But the guideline does stress that CGMs are only useful if the person with type 1 is prepared to use it on a daily basis.

The chair of the task force that drew up the guideline, Dr David Klonoff of Mills-Peninsula Health Services in San Mateo, California, said “There are some caveats to consider before accepting continuous monitoring of glucose as a routine measure to improve glycaemic control in diabetes. There are still concerns about the high costs of CGM and the accuracy of the various systems available. However, the new CPG shows that CGM can be a beneficial tool to help maintain target levels of glycaemia and limit the risk of hypoglycaemia.”

Rachel Connor Head of Research Communication at JDRF UK said “This new clinical guideline may help to convince some clinicians, who may still feel uncertain about the accuracy and usefulness of CGM, that this technology has a place in the management of type 1 diabetes.”

The Endocrine Society’s patient education affiliate, The Hormone Society has produced a really helpfulpatient guide to CGM, which includes information about the new recommendations.


JDRF and InnoCentive Challenge calls for ideas for a glucose-responsive insulin

JDRF has partnered with InnoCentive Inc, a pioneer in crowdsourcing, to announce a $100,000 Challenge calling for innovative ways to approach the discovery and development of a glucose-responsive insulin drug as a treatment for type 1.

Through this challenge, JDRF’s ultimate goal is to discover a glucose-responsive insulin drug that would work only when the body needs it. Glucose-responsive insulin would deliver the precise amount of insulin needed in response to circulating glucose levels, and would control and maintain normal blood glucose levels throughout a daily routine with once-daily or less frequent need for insulin injections or pump infusions.

JDRF is appealing to InnoCentive’s Global Solver Community to uncover solutions for a transformative and sophisticated insulin drug. This Challenge is open to anyone with a solution that fits the published criteria, and requires only a written proposal. Submissions for this Challenge will be accepted through November 9, 2011. The winning solution could then be further developed into a research proposal, giving the winner a change to become a member of the team who will put the idea into practice.

The Challenge is open to the public. More details can be found on the InnoCentive website. 


Behind the headlines: Cost of diabetes drugs now 8.4 per cent of annual NHS drugs bill

You may have read news about the rising costs of diabetes drugs in today’s Daily Mail and on BBC News after The NHS Information Centre released a report yesterday.

The report showed that diabetes prescriptions now account for 8.4 per cent of the entire NHS bill for primary care drugs in England.

NHS information Centre reported that a big part of the rise is due to increased use of drugs for type 2 diabetes. The next most commonly issued drugs are the injectable insulins needed to keep people with type 1, and many with type 2, alive.

The percentage increase in the total cost of prescriptions for all diabetes was four times of what was reported between 2005/6 and 2010/11. This has taken the cost of diabetes prescribing to £725 million in 2010/11.

Access to appropriate treatment and technologies is vital to people with type 1 diabetes to keep them alive and to reduce the risk of long term complications. These have both a devastating impact on the person living with the condition, and can be a significant cost to the NHS.

Ultimately, the only way to end the burden of type 1 diabetes for those living with it, their families, and the NHS, is to find the cure. Learn more about JDRF's research programme here.

You can read the full report here 


Type 2 drug shows benefit for type 1 diabetes

A new study has revealed that a type 2 diabetes drug can also help people with type 1 diabetes achieve better blood glucose control.

Research published this month in the European Journal of Endocrinology, tested the drug liraglutide (marketed under the brand name Victoza) in 14 people. The results showed that injections of the drug, in addition to insulin, significantly decreased fasting mean glucose levels, and average weekly blood glucose levels in every participant, after one week. 

At the start of the study all 14 people had optimal HbA1c levels under 7. Yet the addition of liraglutide was able to decrease the number of ‘glucose excursions’ – when their glucose level swings outside the normal range. This had the added benefit of reducing the amount of insulin the participants needed to take.

Dr Paresh Dandona, senior author of the study said: “Since the development of injectable insulin, there has been nothing definitive in terms of a significant advance in type 1 diabetes treatments. This study shows that liraglutide can provide even well-controlled type 1 diabetics with additional benefits that help them achieve even better blood glucose levels.”

The results now need to be replicated in a much larger trial to ensure safety and effectiveness, but could result in future changes to the treatment of people with type 1 diabetes. 


JDRF partners with Selecta Biosciences to develop possible vaccine for type 1 diabetes

JDRF has announced a new research collaboration to support the development of a vaccine which may help better treat and potentially prevent type 1 diabetes.

The partnership with Selecta Biosciences will see JDRF provide expertise and financial support, with the goal of applying Selecta’s vaccine technology toward the development of vaccines for type 1 diabetes.

Selecta is working on a type of therapy called an ‘antigen-specific tolerogenic vaccine’. This is designed to specifically target the parts of the immune system that cause type 1 diabetes, without damaging the rest of the immune system. In addition to its potential in preventing type 1 diabetes, this type of diabetes vaccine could have other benefits. For example, they could be used in conjunction with other therapies to preserve remaining beta cell function in individuals recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It may also help with regeneration and replacement therapies, and be used to protect newly regenerated or transplanted insulin-producing beta cells in established type 1 diabetes

JDRFI Chief Scientific Officer said: “We believe vaccine research is one of the most promising approaches to prevent or halt the beta cell-specific autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes. And we are excited to be teaming up with Selecta to support the development of this next-generation of vaccine technology.”

The research collaboration agreement between JDRF and Selecta is part of JDRF's Industry Discovery and Development Partnership (IDDP) program. Through this, JDRF partners with pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies to prioritise and speed the discovery, development, and delivery of therapies and devices for type 1 diabetes.


JDRF and Amylin partner to explore if mixing human hormone with insulin could better treat type 1

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Amylin Pharmaceuticals have today announced that they will be working together to fund a series of clinical studies testing the use of amylin in type 1 diabetes treatment. The research will establish whether mixing the drug pramlintide, a man-made version of the human hormone amylin, with insulin could improve blood glucose control in people with type 1 diabetes, compared to the use of insulin alone.

In a healthy pancreas, both insulin and amylin are produced and released by the same cells. The two hormones work together to help stabilise blood glucose levels. Insulin helps the body regulate production and storage of glucose, while amylin helps control the rate at which glucose enters the blood after meals.

Currently, patients who use pramlintide must separately administer their daily insulin therapy, either through injections or an insulin pump. Creating a mixture of the two drugs that still offers the benefits of both hormones, might better mimic the way a healthy pancreas works.

This is the second research partnership between JDRF and Amylin working to improve treatments for people with type 1 diabetes. The project is part of JDRF’s Industry Discovery and Development Partnership (IDDP) program aiming to accelerate research that will lead to better treatments and a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Eleanor Kennedy, Head of Research Communication at JDRF said, ‘ It will be interesting to see whether mixing pramlintide with insulin has the potential to help people with type 1 diabetes tighten their glucose control. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of the research resulting from this partnership.”