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

Displaying June 2011


$1.9 billion potential healthcare saving for USA with artificial pancreas

A study carried out on behalf of JDRF in the US has revealed the potential savings that could be made to the Medicare programme (which provides health insurance to those over 65 years old or who have disabilities) because of the artificial pancreas. These savings are estimated to total $1.9 billion over 25 years.
The JDRF Artificial Pancreas project aims to link an insulin pump with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to provide automatic, real-time monitoring of blood glucose and delivery of insulin. Early studies of a prototype artificial pancreas have already shown clinical improvements in blood glucose control.

The research team, led by Dr Michael J. O’Grady, modelled 25 years of medical costs for people between 30 and 60 years old. Their analysis revealed the accumulated cost savings resulting from avoiding complications in this group.

Poorly controlled blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetes can cause complications later in life, such as diabetic eye disease and cardiovascular disease. A new technology that can significantly slow or stop the progression of these has the potential to deliver substantial health and financial benefits. 


London conference hosts diabetes industry and experts

Diabetes industry leaders gathered in London last week for the 2nd Annual Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy Conference.

The conference was organised by Visiongain in recognition of the dramatically rising incidence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes around the world. The programme aimed to bring together industry experts to discuss every aspect of drug development for both forms of diabetes, from the latest clinical developments through to dealing with regulatory issues.

JDRF plays a world-leading role in setting the agenda for type 1 diabetes research. This was reflected by the invitation of JDRF Director of Complications Barbara Araneo to chair the opening day of the conference. She gave a presentation about emerging treatments for diabetic eye disease and the challenges facing researchers and industry for prevention and treatment. Her presentation explained the strategies that JDRF is using to develop new treatments for retinopathy.  

Other highlights from the first day of the conference included Riccardo Perfetti from Sanofi-Aventis who presented his future vision for insulin development, emphasising the need for patient-centric innovation.

Day two of the conference took a closer look at retinopathy and featured experts from UCL, Moorfields Eye Hospital and Kings College London alongside representatives from AstraZeneca and pSivida. Professor of Clinical Ophthamology Sue Lightman from UCL and Moorfields took an indepth look at anti-VEGF therapies. These include the recently approved Lucentis, a drug that received early support from a JDRF grant. 


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. 


William Chanter attends US Children’s Congress to make a noise about type 1 diabetes

Fourteen year old William Chanter is one of seven children from around the world who will be at JDRF’s Children’s Congress 2011 in Washington, D.C. today. T1 Youth Ambassador William, will join 150 delegates from all over the United States to convey a clear message to the U.S. government that type 1 diabetes is a global problem requiring a united effort to find better treatments and the cure for the condition.

Joining William in Washington, D.C. will be other children from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands and Mexico.

William was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was six years old. For William and his family, managing type 1 diabetes is a daily struggle to maintain a health level of blood glucose through frequent blood sugar checks and regular administration of insulin.

William’s dad, Trevor Chanter said, “William copes extremely well with this invisible condition. People see a happy, healthy looking teenager and are unaware of the effort and vigilance needed to keep healthy such as the 12500+ insulin injections he has had since diagnosis. He is a superb T1 ambassador and is eager to spread awareness of T1 and meet the US delegates in Washington DC.”

Led by International Chairman Mary Tyler Moore, JDRF’s Children’s Congress 2011 will include Congressional visits by the child delegates and a Congressional hearing where Ms. Moore, children with type 1, researchers, and business and community leaders will explain the need for continued support of funding in the U.S. for research into type 1, under the theme of “Promise to Remember Me.”

You can read more about JDRF’s public affairs work here


T1 Youth Ambassadors meet JDRF CEOs

Some of our T1 Youth Ambassadors met with Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF UK, and Jeffrey Brewer, Chief Executive of JDRF International. Read Ambassador Elizabeth Sheils' account of the day:

"Last Friday I had the opportunity to go to the JDRF offices in London, I managed to see where all my friends work. I also had a peak at the stationary cupboard and spotted many Rufus bears and Pingus! It wasn’t actually the main aim of the day to snoop around the office (that was just a bonus). I was there to meet four other T1 Youth Ambassadors, Karen Addington (chief executive of JDRF UK) and Jeffrey Brewer (chief executive of JDRF International). The Youth Ambassadors had the chance to talk to Jeffrey and ask him all sorts of questions about research, type 1, and how the JDRF runs in the US. I found it was a fascinating day – I learnt lots about the research being undertaken and where it could eventually lead. It was extremely exciting thinking that there are so many ideas surrounding curing type 1 – from once a day injections to small procedures every 18 months inserting ‘protected’ insulin producing cells. Both of these would allow the person with type 1 to live almost as if they did not have type 1 at all, being able to eat without carbohydrate counting and living without the fear of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Unfortunately these types of ‘cures’ are a few years down the line but it encourages me that they are being researched and pushes me to want to do more to raise awareness and money for type 1. I was also greatly inspired by the other T1 Youth Ambassadors and it was fascinating hearing about their work. I really enjoy being part of this programme!

One fact which stood out from the day was about the money used for research into type 1. In 2009, UK government funding bodies committed £51 million to research to tackle diabetes however only £6 million of this was relevant to type 1. Which is a massive contrast compared to the US who spent $150 million, the Australian government committed $36 million and Canada $20 million all on research to help cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes. It was shocking to learn that so little is spent on type 1 diabetes however this is also seen in the lack of people using insulin pumps (3.9%) compared to the US (35%) and Europe (15-20%). Even fewer people are using continuous blood glucose monitoring (CGMs). These facts are very concerning when you consider that one of the main pieces of research working to help remove many of the burdens of type 1 is an artificial pancreas composed of an insulin pump, a CGM an algorithm. This would provide the exact amount of insulin and at the correct time to ensure normal blood glucose levels are achieved. However if the UK currently falls behind most of the other developed countries in their uptake for insulin pumps and CGMs this will be a great problem when artificial pancreas systems are readily available. It does seem exceptionally unfair that people who live with type 1 miss out on latest treatments especially if they can make living with the condition a bit easier.

Jeffrey Brewer made an interesting point during the meeting, he said that people living with type 1 have to administer life saving (and threatening) medication everyday for the rest of their lives which definitely puts things into perspective. Type 1 cannot be seen which often leads to people completely underestimating what it is like to live with a life threatening condition. It would be wonderful to have an Artificial Pancreas and I cannot imagine how frustrating it would be if one was released onto the market and only 5% of people could use it!

As T1 Youth Ambassadors we are trying our best to make sure this doesn’t happen! If you would like to join us click here to find out more."

Elizabeth has a regular blog on our T1 Website. Click here to read more about her experience of life with type 1 diabetes.


Type 1 researchers follow gut feeling

Type 1 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and as yet unknown environmental triggers. Scientists know that the environment in your gut can play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes. However, they are not sure what effect the gut has on the autoimmune attack that destroys insulin-producing beta cells.

Now a research project funded by JDRF, published this month in the journal Diabetes, has shed light on how changes in the intestine can affect autoimmunity elsewhere in the body. 

The research team, led by Marika Falcone at the Experimental Diabetes Unit, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, collected biopsies from the small intestines of 12 people with type 1 diabetes, and compared them with samples from 17 people without the condition. They then counted the various types of immune cell present in the samples from each group.

In the samples from people with type 1 diabetes, the researchers discovered a significant reduction in the numbers of certain intestinal T regulatory cells – responsible for protecting against the autoimmune attack that causes type 1 diabetes.

Crucially, they found that the mechanism that creates these T cells in the gut had been disrupted. The researchers believe that this shows that the immune system environment in the intestine (partly responsible for maintaining a supply of good bacteria) is also instrumental in protecting beta cells in the pancreas. Further research is now needed to determine whether the disrupted mechanism has a genetic or environmental cause. 


20% with type 1 miss work due to hypoglycaemia

Nearly one in five people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes regularly experience disruption to their working day due to hypoglycaemia. 

A new survey, focusing on productivity loss during hypoglycaemic events, was published this month in the journal Value in Health. The survey questioned 1,404 people with type 1 type 2 diabetes who had reported a hypoglycaemic event in the preceding month in the US, UK, Germany and France.

The study concluded that average loss of workplace productivity, per person, per month due to a night-time hypoglycaemic event was 14.7 hours for those that missed work.

Hypoglycaemia often occurs during the night and one in five people reported arriving late for work or missing a full day of work as a result. Approximately 18% of survey respondents also reported having to leave work early or miss a full day due to hypoglycaemia during the day.

Sarah Johnson, Director of Policy and Communications at JDRF said: “People with type 1 diabetes live with the threat of hypoglycaemia on a daily basis. Despite it being a serious and life-threatening health issue, many people without type 1 diabetes are unaware of it.”

This National Diabetes Week, JDRF is encouraging the public to understand how type 1 diabetes affects people in the UK to learn the symptoms of hypoglycaemia and to become hypo-aware, so people can help someone in an emergency. 


JDRF urges public to be ‘Hypo Aware’ in National Diabetes Week

As people affected by type 1, unfortunately many of you have experienced hypoglycaemia and live with the worry of either yourself or your child having a hypo. JDRF discovered that despite it being a serious life-threatening health issue, more than half (53 per cent) of UK population do not know it is a dangerous state of low blood glucose.

This YouGov survey of 2075 adults comes 90 years after scientists Banting and Best discovered insulin in the lab, and first saved the life of someone with type 1 diabetes. Since then, treatment has improved greatly, but because people living with type 1 diabetes are still dependent upon insulin injections or pump infusions, we recognise that this means living with the day to day fear of hypoglycaemia.

We are releasing these survey results today to mark National Diabetes Week. We are encouraging the general public to understand how type 1 diabetes affects people in the UK, to learn the symptoms of Hypoglycaemia and to become hypo-aware, so they could help someone in an emergency.

JDRF funded researchers at the University of Cambridge and around the world are currently developing an ‘artificial pancreas’, a piece of technology that may one day provide exactly the right amount of insulin in the body of someone with type 1 diabetes, exactly when it’s needed. This could be the end of hypoglycaemia, as the system would automatically regulate blood glucose levels, mimicking a healthy pancreas. You can read more about the research here 


Rufus Christmas card competition winner announced

We are delighted to announce that Phoebe Radley (pictured left), age 7, has won our Christmas card competition. Phoebe's design, featuring Rufus the bear with type 1 diabetes, was picked out of lots of fantastic entries from children around the UK. Phoebe's little sister Bella (right), age 5, has type 1 diabetes.

The winning design itself will be unveiled in the summer and will be available to buy through our Christmas catalogue and online from August.

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition - it was very hard to choose the winning design. And well done Phoebe!


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.


Three Peaks Challenge

Three Peaks Challenge completed in aid of type 1 diabetes research

Neil Paterson and six friends from Cheltenham recently completed the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon. Neil's four year old son, Harry, has type 1 diabetes and the team wanted to raise money to help fund research into the cure for the condition. This is Neil's account of the Challenge... 

Storm force winds of 70mph gusting to 90mph were de rigeur. The snow started with 400m of 'The Ben' to go with a foot of snow (drifting to a lot more) on the last stretch, meaning the last 100m of the summit, up and down, had to be navigated by compass alone as visibility was so poor. The blizzards were unbelievable; snow and hail stung our faces, temperatures, we have heard, were -15 degrees, and the ravines and gulleys were hidden with snow! Very, very, very scary times indeed.  Even the trig point had lumps of ice on it! Cue first grown up conversation of the weekend as to whether to continue. We did and hit the top in just under three hours. Up and down in five and a half hours.

Scafell was a god forsaken place, especially at 3am.  Winds and more driving rain didn't put this particular lump of English rock in the best light! Most of the words we used about Scafell were short and I have chosen not to type. Up and down (and good riddance) in four and a quarter hours. 

Snowdon was awful and didn't stop raining from start to finish. Winds were stronger than on Ben Nevis and truly dangerous.  There were no steps or paths, only waterfalls. After a serious man chat 30 minutes from the top, we decided to go for it. We hit the top in two and a half hours and were back in the van just under two hours after that. No joke I had half a pint of water in one boot alone!

Despite utterly terrible and downright dangerous conditions (and a van limited to 60 mph!) we hit the top of Snowdon in 23 hours exactly and completed the descent in 24 hours, 55 minutes.

On behalf of all of us, thank you so much for your support which drove us on in our darkest hours (and there were many). 

Neil and the Three Peaks 6, including: 

Rich 'I ain't sleeping in no van' Hale
Chris 'Bright Eyes' Lewis (please, don't ask him to sing)
Dan 'Shut the gate' Gurney
'Put it away' Dave Means
Stuart 'Hot Wheels' Harris (don't mention the near miss… with a petrol tanker)
And me, Neil 'Old man' Paterson


Getting type 1 diabetes sorted

A unique project commissioned by NHS Diabetes and led by Leeds Metropolitan University is aiming to improve the care for children and young people with type 1 diabetes.

The project, called ‘Getting Sorted’, plans to use the views of young people with type 1 diabetes to develop and deliver a new self-care programme.

The ethos of the programme is to actively engage young people, not just in the management of their condition, but with other key issues that impact on their lives – like school and sexual health. To do this, the project will use workshops facilitated by other young people with type 1 diabetes. By using ‘talking groups’ led by young people, the programme will be particularly relevant and interesting to those that take part.

So far the programme is still in a pilot stage and will be rolled out across the Yorkshire and the Humber region soon.

If you are interested in finding out more, please visit the Getting Sorted website or contact Nicky Kime at Leeds Metropolitan University.


Study suggests gluten does not cause type 1 diabetes

Avoiding feeding gluten to babies who are at high genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes does not substantially reduce their chances of developing the condition, according to a study published in the journal Diabetes Care.

A total of 150 babies who had a close family member with type 1 diabetes, and specific high risk genes, were fed gluten for the first time either at six months or 12 months old. They were then monitored for three years by researchers who looked for telltale antibodies that often appear before the onset of type 1 diabetes.

When compared with a control group, who were not instructed to follow a particular diet, there was no statistical difference in the numbers of children who later went on to develop type 1 diabetes.

JDRF-funded researchers are continuing to investigate the possible causes of type 1 diabetes through the TEDDY study. This collaborative project is following approximately 7000 children from birth until they reach age 15. Researchers will take blood samples and keep records of the children’s health, diet and other life experiences. This should help shed light on the various triggers that cause type 1 diabetes.

You can read the full Diabetes Care paper here (subscription required). 

Read more about the TEDDY study.