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

Displaying January 2012



Simfest raises hundreds for type 1 diabetes research

Simfest, a music event organised by Danny Simm and his teenage friends, has managed to raise over £400 for JDRF and type 1 diabetes research. It was held at Fuzzbox Studios in Wigan with local bands like Levelled, Skive and Junction23 performing.

Danny said, ‘It was a fantastic event. We had some great bands performing.  Loor a los heroes went down a storm, Smitten Kitten blew everyone away and The Relays wrapped it up in style. To raise money on the day we shaved Mad Dog Maiden’s hair and raffled off a guitar, photoshoot and vouchers.

‘I decided to put on the event because friends of mine and my grandad have to live their lives with type 1 diabetes. This has alerted me to the struggle that they deal with on a daily day basis. It made me want to help and feel that I am doing something.’ 

One of Danny’s friends Harry Baxendale said, ‘I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was two and a half and living with type 1 diabetes can, at times, be a pain. But it doesn’t control me. I control it! It means a lot to me that Danny has organised this event to raise awareness and vital funds for JDRF, and it gave the band and me a wonderful opportunity to play to a packed crowd too.’

Danny said, ‘I just want to thank everyone who played, donated a prize and money. Next year we will be back with an even bigger event.’ 

(Pictured left to right: Josh Hindle, Harry Baxendale, Danny Simm, Sam Millar, Paul Mad Dog Maiden)


Sanofi break world record for JDRF

Pharmaceutical company Sanofi got their staff dancing in time this month to raise money for research into type 1. As a corporate partner of JDRF, Sanofi wanted to get their sales teams involved in fundraising for us and managed to get recognised by Guinness World Records at the same time.

On Wednesday 18 January at a company meeting in Wales, Sanofi staff attempted to break five Guinness world records. They were successful with one, setting a new record for the most people to be dancing the ‘big fish, little fish, cardboard box’ dance at any one time!

Thank you to Sanofi for raising £455.73 during their record attempts, and for staff who joined in and danced for JDRF!

In the picture: From left to right Samantha Imbimbo JDRF Fundraising Manager Wales, Becky Reeve Head of Professional Relations Sanofi Diabetes, Caroline Horwood Divisional Director for Diabetes Sanofi UK & ROI, Guinness World Records officials


Member of the Royal Family recognises JDRF research

We are delighted and excited to let you know that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall will visit The Cambridge Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in February to learn more about the work of JDRF. She will meet with researchers who are working to prevent type 1 diabetes and its complications, as well as speaking to children with type 1 who have been involved with clinical trials.

Her Royal Highness will be welcomed by HM Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Mrs Jane Lewin Smith JP, before touring the facility with Karen Addington, Chief Executive at JDRF, and Professor David Dunger, of The University of Cambridge.

The Duchess of Cornwall will also meet with Dr Roman Hovorka and Dr Tim Tree to learn about their JDRF funded research.  Dr Hovorka is working to develop a Closed Loop Artificial Pancreas whilst Dr Tree will be discussing the Diabetes Genes, Autoimmunity and Prevention (DGAP) Project. 

This visit will be a chance for Her Royal Highness to decide how she might like to be associated with JDRF in the future. We are delighted to have this opportunity to meet with her as she only works with charities that she has personally selected, and look forward to telling you more about the visit at a later date.


Sanofi to conduct a survey of parents who and young adults with type 1 diabetes

Do you have a son or daughter aged between 13 and 23 who has type 1 diabetes? Are you ever concerned about their health and diabetes management now that they are becoming more independent?

Sanofi is conducting a survey of parents of teenagers and young adults (aged between 13 and 23) who have type 1 diabetes to highlight any worries they may have for their children’s health and diabetes management.The survey will be used to support the launch of a new, blood glucose monitor (BGM).

Please find a link to the survey here 

If you have any questions, please get in contact with Claire Nicholson (tel: 020 7025 6524; email:


Amelia Lily talks type 1 with JDRF!

Today, JDRF spoke with X Factor star and singer Amelia Lily about living with type 1 diabetes, being in the spotlight and her career plans for the future. Amelia chatted to JDRF’s in house journalist Lucy Freeman whilst on her way to perform at a gig.

The interview will be featured in our Winter edition of our quarterly magazine, Type 1 Discovery, which is due to come out at the end of January.  If you want to read the latest news from Amelia, and you aren’t already a friend of JDRF, why not sign up here

As a Friend of JDRF you'll receive Type 1 Discovery. It's packed with all the latest research news plus features on living with type 1 diabetes. You'll also receive invites to our Type 1 Discovery Days, special updates by email and the chance to apply to come and meet some of our researchers. All for £5 a month. Most importantly, by becoming a Friend of JDRF you will be helping us to support vital research into type 1 diabetes.


A killer link to type 1 diabetes

JDRF-funded researchers at Cardiff University have shown exactly how cells in the immune system attack the insulin producing beta cells causing type 1 diabetes for the first time.

The research team, led by Professor Andy Sewell were able to shed light on the way that a particular cell of the immune system, called killer T cells target beta cells for destruction. Their research was published today in the latest issue of the prestigious journal Nature Immunology.

Killer T cells in the pancreas are very difficult to study as it is not easy to separate them from other cells. Professor Sewell’s team have developed a completely new technique for separating these cells out from the crowd. Having isolated the killer T cells they were then able to ‘watch’ the attack on the beta cells, as you can see from the picture (the t-cells are red and the beta cells are green) This allowed them to examine exactly how the cells recognised one another in incredibly fine detail.

Killer T cells normally recognise viruses like the ‘flu’ virus in the body and destroy them. But Professor Sewell’s team have discovered that they attack beta cells in a slightly different way. This may be why the immune system’s usual safety checks that ensure healthy ‘self’ tissues are not attacked are unable to pick up and control this process in type 1 diabetes.

These findings are particularly important as how and why beta cells are destroyed is still unclear. A greater understanding of this mechanism will enable scientists to develop new drugs to halt the process - or even predict and prevent type 1 diabetes.

Rachel Connor, Head of Research Communication at JDRF said ‘We’re really excited to see the results of this work – this is the first time scientists have been able to study the fine detail of how killer T cells target insulin-producing cells in type 1 diabetes. Research like this will be fundamental to allowing scientists to develop new, specific treatments that can help people with type 1’.

Thanks to Susan Wong for providing the cells and Maja Wallberg for taking the pictures.


Behind the headlines: diabetes breakthrough raises hope of cure

You may have seen in the Daily Mirror this morning, a report that a new cure for diabetes may be on the way.

The article discussed a new research study which showed that it may be possible to ‘re-educate’ the immune system of people with type 1 diabetes, and halt the destruction of insulin producing beta-cells that causes type 1.

In the study, stem cells from umbilical cord blood were used to retrain cells in the immune system not to attack the pancreas. Immune cells were taken from the patient and grown together with stem cells from donor umbilical cord blood. The patients' own cells were then separated from the stem cells and returned back into their blood. Growing stem cells and immune cells together seems to help stop the immune cells attacking beta-cells when they are put back in the patient. The approach appears to show promise as the first patients tested were able to reduce the amount of insulin they needed after the treated immune cells were returned.

This exciting discovery is new innovative approach to treating diabetes and JDRF is very pleased to have been involved in funding this research.

However, this was a small clinical trial which involved only 15 people and although the results are exciting, it is still early days for this treatment. The main aim of the trial was to test the safety of the treatment in people with type 1. As the trial showed that the treatment is safe, the research team can now run a larger clinical trial to prove if it works.

The way in which the stem cells ‘educate’ the immune system is also still unclear and more research will need to be done to understand this process before the treatment is likely to be accepted in to clinical practice.

You can read the full article here


New vision for type 1 diabetes

JDRF has joined forces with UK biotech company KalVista to bring hope to type 1 diabetes patients at risk of vision complications.

This new research collaboration will help KalVista begin first in human trials with a new drug they have developed to treat diabetic retinopathy.

KalVista are working on a therapy that may improve or delay the symptoms of diabetic eye disease. The drug may help to protect the blood vessels in the eye that are often damaged in diabetic eye disease and can lead to vision loss. They hope that protecting these blood vessels may prevent or slow down vision problems. The new drug can be delivered straight to the eye and this study aims to tests its safety in humans.

Diabetic eye disease or diabetic retinopathy is the most common and most serious eye related complication in patients with type 1 diabetes. It causes swelling of part of the eye and destroys small blood vessels leading to loss of vision. A treatment to prevent or slow its progression would be a major benefit to patients.

The partnership with KalVista is particularly important as it allows this novel therapy, move from basic research – which was also supported by JDRF – towards clinical testing.

Head of research communication at JDRF Rachel Connor said ‘we are very excited about this partnership with KalVista and believe that this approach could make a difference to thousands of people affected by type 1 diabetes at risk of diabetic retinopathy’.


Inspiring in 2012

JDRF recently met Phil Packer MBE, Non-Paid Chief Executive and founder of The British Inspiration Trust, a charity working to inspire and support young people who are facing challenges and adversity in their lives.

In setting up the organisation, Phil wants to help others who have had to overcome obstacles or who are learning to live with adversity to succeed. He met staff at JDRF to find out more about type 1 diabetes and to learn about how young people in the UK are affected by the condition and why we are working to find the cure.

Karen Addington and other staff members explained what day to day life with type 1 diabetes is like, describing how life is a constant balancing act for someone with the condition and explaining how it also affects families. 

Phil talked us through his plans to build a BRIT Centre of Inspiration, where young people who face adversity, who are identified by their charities, can attend residential courses and meet inspirational figures and be inspired to get what they want from life. With mentors such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Sir Richard Branson already supporting Phil’s vision, the project is set to be a fantastic success and so JDRF was delighted to be asked to become a BRIT advisor, supporting the programme and working to help Phil in his mission to inspire young people.

You can read more about BRIT and the work Phil is doing here   

Keep an eye out for ways in which BRIT and JDRF will be working together in the coming year!


Jeremy Irvine rises to fame in Warhorse film

As we welcome 2012, we are delighted to see JDRF supporter Jeremy Irvine in the spotlight this weekend, as the UK premier of film Warhorse is shown on the big screen in Leicester Square. Actor Jeremy, who has type 1 diabetes, takes the lead role in the film adaptation of the west end show , directed by the world famous Steven Spielberg.

Jeremy was under a different spotlight when the BBC filmed him talking about his involvement in JDRF’s Artificial Pancreas trial at the University of Cambridge in 2005 and again in 2007.

As a rising star and Hollywood actor, Jeremy is already back on set, shooting for his next film Great Expectations. Over the years, despite a busy schedule as his acting career has taken off, Jeremy has spoken at many JDRF events, showing his support of our search for the cure for type 1 diabetes.

Jeremy said: "Without the research funded by JDRF I don't believe I would be able to have the career I'm enjoying now. Thanks to the huge developments being made in the treatment of type 1 diabetes no child should have to feel diabetes needs to stop them following their aspirations."

If you want to see him in action, you will be able to watch Jeremy’s debut performance on screen at local cinemas from next Monday. Keep an eye on our website for news of how we will be working with Jeremy in the coming year to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes.


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.’


NICE dismiss joint appeal for Lucentis

Last week we were disappointed to learn that NICE dismissed our joint appeal encouraging them to reconsider their decision not to recommend Lucentis for the treatment of Diabetic Macular Oedema through the NHS. Working together with Diabetes UK, the Macular Disease Society (MDS) and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) we have been campaigning for the potentially sight-saving drug to be made available for people with diabetic macular oedema (DMO) after NICE initially turned down an appeal for it to be used on the NHS.

At least 50,000 people in the UK are affected by DMO.Traditionally, laser treatment has been the standard treatment for the condition on the NHS, yet this only stops vision from deteriorating further. Lucentis, given in the form of an injection in the eye, however, is the first licensed treatment to improve vision in people with sight loss due to DMO.

Together with the other three charities, we are now urging the manufacturer of Lucentis, Novartis, to rapidly develop a Patient Access Scheme with the Department of Health and NICE in order to reduce the cost of this treatment to the NHS and ensure the maximum number of people with DMO can benefit from the treatment without delay.