Cookies on the JDRF website

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

All news

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

Displaying July 2012


Micro markers for type 1

A study by researchers from Denmark has identified new markers for type 1 diabetes. The team led by Dr Henrik Mortensen have found that substances called ‘microRNAs’ are present in the blood of people with type 1 but not in the blood of people without type 1.

MicroRNAs or miRNAs are tiny pieces of a substance similar to DNA, called RNA. They are thought to be important for telling cells which genes to switch on and which to switch off, so that cells in different tissues can function correctly.

The team identified a number of different miRNAs that are present in the blood of people with type 1 but not in people without. MiRNAs are easily detectable in blood so they could potentially be used as a predictive marker for the development of type 1 or as a marker to test if new therapies for type 1 are working well.

The study also found that a particular miRNA called miR-25 is associated with good glucose control.  MiR-25 was present at high levels in the blood of people with high HbA1c and at low levels in people with low HbA1c. It is possible that this miRNA is involved in maintaining good glucose control and might in the future become a drug target to help control glucose levels.

Maebh Kelly, Research Communication Officer at JDRF said, ‘Identifying substances like miRNAs that are specific for type 1 will help us learn more about the underlying causes of type 1 and may even help us to predict the development of type 1 in the future’



Type 1 pilots break land speed record

We are pleased to announce that Douglas Cairns, Butch Weaver and Jason Harmon have set a new land speed record from Daytona Beach in Florida to San Diego.

Douglas, Butch, and Jason are the founding members of Diabetes Formation Flight USA and all have type 1 diabetes. Setting off on 26 June, they recorded a flight time of 12 hours, 37 minutes and 58 seconds (which includes two refuelling stops). This is an incredible achievement especially as they were faced with heavy rainfall and storms from Tropical Storm Debby.

If flying through torrential rain and storms wasn’t difficult enough, the three men had the added challenge of performing the flight in a two plane formation, all while trying to beat the world record and managing their type 1 diabetes.

Until 1997, people with type 1 diabetes were prohibited around the globe from flying planes in any capacity due to the perceived dangers of low blood glucose in the cockpit. However, in 1997, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed to permit people with well-controlled type 1 diabetes to obtain medical certificates allowing them to fly privately. Eventually, other countries followed.

However, for Douglas, Butch, and Jason, the restrictions and attitudes towards pilots with type 1 diabetes still must be changed. We would like to say thank you to Douglas Cairns for his continued support of JDRF and for being an inspirational role model for children and adults with type 1 diabetes. He has shown that when one door closes, another one opens and even though living with type 1 is difficult at times you can still enjoy the things you love.

Find out more information about the Diabetes Formation flight by visiting the official website.

Alternatively, you can watch footage from the formation flight.


JDRF supporter set for Buckingham Palace Olympic torch run

Today, 13 year old Cara Dartnell-Steinberg will be representing JDRF as the Olympic flame passes through London.

Cara was diagnosed with type 1 in 2005 and despite having a needle phobia has learnt to manage her condition and refuses to allow it to hold her back. Her story has been featured in the Hamstead & Highgate Express, and Cara has done a radio interview for BBC London News.

Cara will be running the Buckingham Palace to Constitution Hill stretch today at 18.56. Cara will be supported by family and friends and JDRF staff and if you are in the area, why not come and join us? Look out for us in our blue t-shirts around Constitution Hill!

Good on you Cara and we look forward to cheering you on later!


East get knitting and putting for JDRF

The east has been awash with fundraising activity recently, with two fundraisers in particular catching the eye of our JDRF London and East team.

Eight-year-old Eden Olley (pictured) from Great Yarmouth recently showcased her knitting talents in order to raise money for JDRF. Eden has had type 1 diabetes since 2011, so when her mum and auntie organised a launch party for their fashion business to raise money for JDRF, Eden decided to get involved too.

For four weeks, Eden knitted her socks off and made some lovely finger knitted scarfs and bangles to sell at the launch party. These were an instant hit, and Eden quickly sold all of her amazing knitted presents and raised £28.70.

JDRF would like to say a big thank you to Eden and to her mum and auntie for not only raising money for JDRF, but also raising awareness of type 1 diabetes. And Eden has no plans to stop – she is currently planning her next fundraising event at her school.

Further south, Nick Chalkley (pictured) from Hornchurch, Essex organised a Longest Day Golf Challenge to raise money for JDRF. Nick and his two golfing companions got up at the crack of dawn to tee off at 4:45am, and played a marathon game of golf until 8:30pm. The unpleasant weather did not hold the team back, and they powered through, completing the challenge and raising an impressive £930 for JDRF.

Nick’s daughter Phoebe has type 1 diabetes, and also got her fundraising hat on last month, organising a raffle for the Jubilee celebrations. She raised over £35 for JDRF and even took the time to make a special union flag for the raffle.

JDRF would like to thank Nick for organising a unique challenge for JDRF, and Phoebe for her own fundraising efforts.

If you would like to organise your own fundraising event please contact Hannah Roberts at or on 0207 841 3657.



JDRF supporter wins awards for inspiration and positivity

Ten- year-old Kaye Sparrow from Billinge, Wigan, with type 1 diabetes has received two prestigious awards for being an inspiration to other young people and in recognition of her fundraising efforts for JDRF.

Kaye won the St Helens Primary School Pupil of the Year award sponsored by the St Helens Reporter earlier this month. The Reporter praised her attitude saying she was inspirational for not letting a condition which makes everything she does just a little bit harder than for others get the better of her.

She also won the Good Citizen of the Year Award (Young Citizen category) sponsored by Liverpool John Moores University for turning the negativity which can surround type 1 diabetes into positivity, helping raise awareness of the condition and recognising all her hard work fundraising for JDRF.

We are thrilled that Kaye has won two awards and feel that she thoroughly deserves them. On behalf of JDRF she recently delivered an exceptional speech to raise awareness at our T1 Youth Ambassador Action Day to 150 children and attended our type 1 parliamentary event at Westminster earlier this year to speak to politicians and the media regarding the condition.

She truly is an inspiration and she should be very proud of her achievements – well done Kaye!

Kaye is also our Guest Editor for the latest T1 magazine. If you are not already on the mailing list for your child, you can sign up here. 

Alternatively if your child wants to help raise awareness then signed up to be a T1 Youth Ambassador.  See the JDRFT1 website for more information. 


Olympic torchbearer makes a special appearance and helped raise funds

Brooke Wilkinson, who has type 1 and was selected as an olympic torch bearer, made a guest appearance at The Brook, Portswood, Southampton last Saturday with her olympic torch bearing uniform and torch.

Her dad, Mark, has a well known local band 'Rufus Stone' who plays there.

Brooke and her dad raised over £300 for JDRF and Mark has offered the services of his band to JDRF for future fundraising.

Thanks so much Brooke and Mark!

Brooke pictured here with her friends on the day of her leg of the Olympic Torch Relay. 


Type 1 torchbearer lights way to Olympics

Later today, William Chanter from Crockham Hill, Edenbridge will be representing JDRF when the Olympic torch comes to Challock.

William, 15, told us: 'I am delighted to be offered the chance to be a torchbearer for the 2012 Torch Relay. It’s an honour to be involved in this once in a lifetime opportunity and represent JDRF and the 400,000 people living with type 1 diabetes everyday in the UK.'

William was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at six years old. Despite having had over 15,000 blood tests and 10,000 insulin injections since he was diagnosed, he has never let type 1 diabetes get in his way. William is an accomplished 29er dinghy sailor, which is one step before the Olympic 49er. William is also the Junior Representative at his local sailing group at Bough Beech Sailing Club and educates people on type 1.

William is also a keen fundraiser for JDRF, and a T1 Youth Ambassador. He attended JDRF's first parliamentary event, Type 1 Parliament, where attendees shared their experiences of life with type 1 diabetes with over 50 MPs.

William's Dad, Trevor, who nominated his son said: 'I have never once heard William complain. William is extremely modest about all his accomplishments, but as his parents we feel very proud of him. We hope that by William doing this that we can educate more people about JDRF and type 1.'

William is one of 13 torchbearers who have been in touch to say they are carrying the torch for JDRF. Nicole Gerrard, JDRF Senior Fundraiser for Kent and the surrounding area, said: 'We are delighted that so many JDRF supporters and T1 Youth Ambassadors have been chosen to carry the Olympic Torch. This is a momentous occasion, and we look forward to watching them lighting the way to the Olympics across the UK and helping to raise awareness of the vital need for more research to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes. We wish William the best of luck and we are grateful for all his achievements and for helping raise the profile of type 1.'

The relay will mark the run up to the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, as the flame commences a 70 day journey across the UK which started on the 19 May. The relay will see a total of 8,000 people carrying the flame and travelling through 1,018 UK villages, towns and cities.


Fun filled fundraising in Wiltshire

Young people with type 1 diabetes and their families came together on Saturday in Trowbridge, Wiltshire to learn about type 1 and take part in a fun day of fundraising for JDRF.

The day was organised by the family of Cerys Blake (pictured). Cerys has type 1 diabetes, and is a T1 Youth Ambassador for JDRF.

The event welcomed local residents and businesses with people travelling to join in the fun on the day from Swindon, Bristol, the New Forest, Devon and Wales.

The line-up included the hugely popular Buttons the Clown, glitter tattoos, face painting, outdoor play facilities, a bouncy castle, a grand raffle and an amazing band called Hot Flex!

This fun filled family event raised £1,800 for JDRF, which will help us to continue to support research into type 1 diabetes.

Thanks so much to Cerys and her mum Donna for continuing to support us. To view photos from the day, visit Cerys and Donna’s Facebook page.

If you would like to fundraise in your area, let us know so we can support you.


Five marathons in five days

This Sunday, Paul Bowyer will set off on an epic challenge to run five marathons in five days.

He came up with the idea last summer, while he and his brother were enjoying a few drinks. Paul wanted a way to raise money for some of the charities that supported his niece Georgie when she was diagnosed with leukaemia in July last year, and his nephew Charlie when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2008.

Rather than take part in a more traditional charity event, Paul has decided to run from Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool (where Charlie was diagnosed with type 1) to Birmingham Children's Hospital (where Georgia was diagnosed with leukaemia). This will mean running five marathons in five days, from Sunday 22 - Thursday 26 July 2012.

Paul told us:

'This is a very special, poignant run to mark two key events in my niece and nephew's short lives so far. My aim is to reach the finish line each day, regardless of time. I want to raise as much money as possible for my three chosen charities - JDRF, CLIC Sargent and Ronald McDonald House. Throughout everything, Charlie has been extremely brave and taken everything type 1 diabetes has brought him in his stride. He does not allow this condition to get in the way of doing the things his friends do and he is enjoying school which he started in September 2011.'

Paul is hoping for people to join him for some or all of the run, and a number of people are already planning on walking or cycling with him along parts of the route.

So far, Paul has raised £5,000 in total, and £1,500 for JDRF. Visit Paul's website to find out more, get in touch or sponsor Paul.


JDRF supporter carries Olympic torch through Fareham

Andy, 56, has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 50 years and is a dedicated supporter of JDRF.  

We spoke to Andy this morning who is still on cloud nine from the experience, who said:

"It was such a fantastic experience and atmosphere. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and such an emotional day. Thousands of people turned out to follow the passage of the torch through Fareham and the crowd were unbelievable - putting their hands out to me for high fives. I will never forget this amazing day and I still feel immensely  energised from the experience."  

“I was really honoured to have been nominated for such an historic moment. Having lived with type 1 diabetes for practically all my life I am delighted to be able to carry the torch to represent those 400,000 people who are living with the condition each and every day. I am determined not to let type 1 take over my life and I will continue to remain positive and fundraise for JDRF, so that hopefully one day a cure will be found.”

JDRF is delighted that many of its inspirational supporters including Andy have been chosen to carry the Olympic flame as part of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. Earlier today Amy Wilton carried the torch through Midhurst representing JDRF, and we feel sure that this is an experience that she will also never forget. 

Watch the video of Andy carrying the torch


Understanding hypoglycaemia

 JDRF-funded researchers at the University of Dundee have developed a new way to study how the brain responds to hypoglycaemia in the lab.

The research team, who published their results in the journal Diabetologia this week, have found that they can grow cells in the lab that act just like glucose sensing cells in the brain. These cells contain the same genes as glucose sensing cells and can respond to changes in glucose levels. 

The researchers now plan to use these cells to learn more about how the brain detects and responds to hypoglycaemia and how this response can change in people with type 1. It may even be possible to use the cells to test out new drugs that may help detect hypoglycaemia.

In fact, the team have already identified a molecule called ‘AMPKα2’ which alters the cells ability to respond to changes in glucose levels.

Hypoglycaemia is one of the most common and potentially severe side effects of insulin therapy that occurs when blood glucose levels drop too low and cells do not have enough energy to work properly. Usually, the brain senses hypoglycaemia early and responds by releasing glucose stored in the liver.

Some people with type 1 can gradually lose this ability to detect and respond to hypoglycaemia and no longer experience the usual physical warning symptoms. This means people may be unable to take preventative action themselves, risking multiple severe hypos.

Dr Craig Beall, who conducted the study said, ‘The ultimate aim and focus of the team at the University of Dundee is to develop a therapy that will prevent hypoglycaemia and reverse diminished hypoglycaemia awareness in type 1 diabetes. The validation of this model will go some way in accelerating findings into this complication’.


Adults wanted for type 1 diabetes focus group

JDRF is helping a specialised healthcare market research agency who are looking for volunteers who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 18 or over and within the last six years, to take part in market research in Nottingham. If you think you fit the bill, and are available on Wednesday 18 July, we would love to hear from you. 

Using an indepth interview process we hope to learn about the experiences of a newly diagnosed adult with type 1 diabetes. This will include aspects of your healthcare pathway and lifestyle. 

The research interviews will be at the Talkback studios in Nottingham and should take about one hour. The interview will be recorded. 

If you are interested or want more information, please contact Sharon Hayes on 0800 0196156, who will carry out a short screening interview to check you are suitable for the research project. 


Behind the headlines: children with type 2 diabetes

We read with interest the article in today’s Telegraph regarding children as young as seven being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes because of unhealthy lifestyles.

Focusing totally on type 2 and its specific issues, the report also states that hundreds of children are being diagnosed every year with the number expected to rise. It refers to a NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) panel report and guidance aimed at doctors, nurses and others to increase screening for type 2.

The report can be read here: It makes for interesting reading, but we wish that more had been made of the opportunity to educate readers with regard to type 1 diabetes and the differences to type 2.

Unlike type 2, type 1 is a serious autoimmune condition which cannot be prevented, nor can it be controlled with medication, exercise and diet.

People with type 1 rely on multiple insulin injections or pump infusions every day just to stay alive. The number of people being diagnosed is increasing by 4% per year – about 2,000 of them being children. 

Only research will find the cure and JDRF exists to fund that research.

We will be contacting the reporter to highlight the differences between type 1 and type 2, including the higher incidence of diagnosis in children.


NHS Research to support research and innovation

We were pleased to learn recently that the Department of Health has published a document which sets out various objectives for the NHS to achieve.

This draft mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board sets out new care objectives for the improvement of health and healthcare, expectations for health service delivery within the next few years, and marks the move to a more patient centred NHS.

Objective 17 of this draft mandate majors on research and innovation specifically, and point three clearly states:

  • Promote access to clinically appropriate drugs recommended by NICE, in line with the NHS Constitution.

This factor should therefore have a positive impact on patient accessibility to pumps, so we will be taking a good look at this mandate and would request that you do the same.

The government is consulting on the proposed objectives until 26 September and responses will help to inform the final care objectives, which will be published in Autumn 2012, before they officially come into force in April 2013.

Please go to to ensure you have your say.


Behind the headlines: the causes of type 1

There have been some suggestions in the media this week that type 1 diabetes may be avoidable. Stopping type 1 diabetes before it develops is one of JDRF's key research priorities and we have several clinical trials underway looking at slowing or preventing the immune system response that causes type 1, but at the moment, there is no proven way to stop it developing.

 Type 1 is in part caused by genes and we know which ones put you at greater risk of developing the condition. However, having certain genes does not mean a person will definitely develop type 1 and there are many cases of identical twins where one twin develops type 1 and the other does not. These twins have exactly the same genes so scientists think that there must be something else in their environment that triggers the immune system to attack beta cells.

 There are also huge variations in the numbers of people who develop type 1 in different countries.  For example Finland has the highest incidence of type 1 in the world and Scotland has the highest prevalence in the UK. These different rates of type 1 are likely caused by a mixture of genetic and environmental factors.

We still don't fully understand what these factors are, and they may be different for different people.  Some evidence points to particular viruses and levels of vitamin D, but further investigation is still needed, which is why more research into the underlying causes of type 1 is vital.  For example,  JDRF is current funding a large international study to try and work out what environmental factors increase the risk of developing type 1. Researchers are following  7000 children who are genetically at risk of type 1 diabetes. The study will follow these children over a 15 year period and try to identify any environmental factors that may activate the development of type 1.

Read more about our research programme to cure and prevent type 1 diabetes.



Taking control of the immune system

JDRF-funded researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have managed to stop the immune system attack on beta cells that causes type 1 in mice.

In the study which was published in the journal Diabetes this week, researchers found that injecting mice with immune cells called macrophages stopped the attack on beta cells.

Macrophages are a type of immune cell that can either protect cells from an immune attack or be the attacker, depending on which signals they receive from other cells around them.  The first part of this study, which was led by Dr Robert Harris, identified the signals that macrophages need to become protective.

The team were then able to use these signals to coax macrophages into the protective mode. The protective macrophages were then injected into mice whose immune system had begun to attack beta cells but were not yet insulin dependent.  Following the injection of macrophages, mice were less likely to develop type 1 and most could maintain their own insulin production.

 In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Finding a way to stop this attack early on may help to protect the remaining beta cells and allow people with the condition to continue producing at least some of their own insulin.

Maebh Kelly, Research Communication Officer at JDRF said ‘Understanding how cells in the immune system are directed to attack or defend other cells is an important step towards the development of immune therapies that can halt the development of type 1. Dr Harris’ research has provided us with new insight into the signals that tell the immune system what to do and how we can control them’.


Mum plans to snap up £1000 a year for JDRF

When Jenny Potter’s 4 year old son Harry (pictured at front) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2010, Jenny began raising money to help JDRF find the cure. Now she is taking her fundraising to the next level, setting herself a target to raise £1000 a year.

Jenny plans to use her photography skills to raise this amount. She is going to photograph children and adults with type 1, and donate sales of the images to JDRF. She is also looking into a photography exhibition and producing a book of photos of type 1 children.

Her first photo shoot took place on 27 May 2012 in Bristol (pictured). Jenny photographed children with type 1 diabetes individually, in groups and with siblings. The photos were taken for free, but are being sold online with proceeds going to JDRF via Jenny’s Just Giving page.

Jenny is currently contacting companies to see if they can donate venue space for exhibitions, helping to keep costs down. Jenny is hoping to do a photo shoot every month in different parts of the UK to get her photography project off the ground.

To view images from Jenny’s first photo shoot, visit her website at, and click on ‘Current clients’, ‘Client viewing’ and ‘Children with type 1 diabetes.’

 If you would like to get involved with the photography project, get in touch with Jenny through her website. To help Jenny with her fundraising, visit her JustGiving page at 


Leeds Spinners raise over £2,500

Leeds office workers donned their cycling shorts to raise over £2,500 for JDRF in the Spin to Cure Diabetes on Thursday 28 June. JDRF was thrilled that so many workers took on the challenge and spent their lunch hour spinning to raise awareness and vital funds to support type 1 diabetes research.

Five teams of five pushed their bodies to the limit over eight-minute interval sprints on static Watt bikes at Wellington Place, Leeds. Teams included staff from Leeds-based KPMG, Eversheds, Addleshaw Goddard, RG Group and Pure Gym.

The fastest team was Eversheds who achieved a distance of 26,458 metres in 40 minutes. Steve Simkins from KPMG was crowned the ‘King of Spin’, covering 5,677 metres and Lenka Benesova from Pure Gym was crowned the ‘Queen of Spin’ with a distance of 5,056 metres (both pictured left).

Macquarie Group worked with JDRF to host the fourth series of bike-a-thons in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds, with Nuffield Heath supporting the event as Fitness Partner. Bikes were provided by TEAMcycles.

Chris Normington, JDRF’s Development Manager for the North, said: 'There was a fantastic atmosphere at the event, with participants cycling hard, the crowd roaring their encouragement and teams cheering each other on to get the best time of the day. We believe the Leeds event will have raised more than £2500, so this is a marvellous achievement and well done to all involved.'

David Fass, CEO of Macquarie Group EMEA, said: 'Macquarie is proud to be a key supporter of JDRF in the UK and we were delighted with everyone’s efforts and would like to say a huge thank you for taking part. Events like this really help JDRF raise the profile of type 1 and we will continue to assist JDRF in its important work for people with type 1 diabetes and their families.'

Visit for further information.