HomeWorld NewsThe importance of Type 1 diabetes research and awareness with JDRF

The importance of Type 1 diabetes research and awareness with JDRF


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Can you introduce yourself and tell us about the story behind JDRF?

I am the research communications lead at JDRF UK, the UK branch of JDRF International. My job is to make research informative, easy to understand, and engaging for all people living with or affected by type 1 diabetes. This involves condensing and communicating the latest and innovative research on type 1 diabetes that is taking place around the world.

We fund research at every stage of Type 1, from prevention to treatments and cures. We are exploring whether new and existing drugs can be used to treat type 1 diabetes, as well as design cells and therapies to eradicate the condition.

JDRF was founded in 1970 by a group of parents whose children had type 1 diabetes. Since then, the incidence of type 1 diabetes has increased by approximately four percent each year, and there are now 8.7 million people living with it. condition throughout the world. JDRF is the world’s leading organization funding type 1 diabetes research, and our strength lies in our unique approach.

We support all people living with type 1 diabetes by working with policymakers to increase the accessibility and availability of treatment and by providing information and resources to help people manage their condition. The research we fund has led to new developments in diabetes technology and treatments and is laying the vital foundation for a cure.

JDRF’s vision is a world without type 1 diabetes. How are you achieving this vision?

We are committed to eradicating type 1 diabetes by funding world-class research, including 70 clinical trials currently underway around the world to test new drugs and devices. We pool our resources into a global program that has invested more than £2 billion in research to date. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a line of innovative therapies for people living with type 1 diabetes. We have staff and volunteers in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands, who are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without type 1 diabetes.

Can you tell us more about type 1 diabetes? How is type 1 diabetes different from type 2?

People are not born with type 1 diabetes. Instead, they lose their ability to make insulin because their immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. To replace this insulin, people with type 1 diabetes must take regular doses of insulin through injections or through an insulin pump. Once a person develops the condition, he will have it for the rest of his life. This can be physically and mentally unforgiving. People with type 1 diabetes should try to match the amount of insulin they take with the amount of glucose in their blood. However, this is difficult to achieve and many experience fluctuations in blood glucose levels between hyperglycemia (very high) and hypoglycemia (very low).

Conversely, people with type 2 diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or the insulin they do make doesn’t work properly. The key difference is that type 2 diabetes is not caused by an attack by the immune system. Instead, there are several risk factors that contribute to its development, including family history, age, and ethnicity, as well as lifestyle factors, such as weight, diet, and physical exercise. Type 2 diabetes can often be treated with healthy lifestyle changes along with medication, but sometimes people with type 2 diabetes also need to take insulin. In the long term, both of these forms of diabetes can cause serious heart, nerve, eye, and kidney complications.

Image Credit: Buravleva Stock/ShutterstockImage Credit: Buravleva Stock/Shutterstock

Because the precise causes of type 1 diabetes are unknown, there are many myths surrounding this condition. What are some common misconceptions about type 1 diabetes?

One myth we hear a lot is that type 1 diabetes is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, especially eating too much sugar. This is simply not true. No one with type 1 diabetes has done anything to cause their condition. We don’t know exactly what causes your immune system to break down and start attacking the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. However, research is ongoing to identify the initial cause of this rogue immune attack, and scientists are exploring links to certain intestinal viruses and bacteria.

Another common misconception is that people with type 1 diabetes cannot or should not eat certain foods, such as those that are high in sugar. In fact, people with type 1 diabetes can eat whatever they want. They just need to make sure they take the right amount of insulin to match their diet.

Some people also mistakenly believe that people with type 1 diabetes cannot play sports. But there’s no reason why they can’t do the same exercise as everyone else. They will first need to check that their blood glucose level is stable and continue to check it during exercise. They may also need a snack before starting to exercise. Many of our fans with type 1 diabetes run the London Marathon every year, proving they can exercise as much as people without the disease.

The incidence of diabetes is increasing year by year. What are some of the signs and symptoms of diabetes that people should be aware of?

There are four key signs to look out for that could indicate someone has type 1 diabetes. Watch out for someone who drinks a lot of water and goes to the bathroom more often than usual. Also, watch out for sudden, unexplained weight loss and extreme tiredness. An easy way to remember these symptoms is the 4Ts: thirst, cleanliness, thinness, and tiredness. Everyone should know these four symptoms because anyone can have type 1 diabetes.

JDRF’s research has not only led to new developments in diabetes technology and treatment, but has also pushed new boundaries to one day find a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Can you tell us more about some of the exciting recent advances in diabetes research?

For me, the most exciting advance toward a cure for type 1 diabetes is the research to develop human insulin-producing cells (called beta cells) in the laboratory. Researchers around the world are doing this by encouraging human stem cells (cells that can become any other human cell) to become beta cells.

We are now at the stage where a clinical trial is going on in Boston, USA, where some of these lab-grown beta cells are being transplanted into people with type 1 diabetes. The company running the trial is called Vertex. Pharmaceuticals and its researchers are closely monitoring their participants. They have already seen large reductions in the amount of insulin patients need to inject each day to keep their blood sugar levels stable, with one participant even becoming insulin independent 270 days after receiving the new cells. Having funded the initial research exploring whether beta cells could be made in a laboratory, we are incredibly excited to see the outcome of this groundbreaking trial.

Image Credit: Eviart/ShutterstockImage Credit: Eviart/Shutterstock

World Diabetes Day is celebrated annually on November 14. What does World Diabetes Day mean to JDRF?

World Diabetes Day is our chance to get the attention of the general population and put type 1 diabetes on their agenda. It’s when the spotlight is on us, and we can use it to raise awareness about the signs of type 1 diabetes and how serious and life-threatening a condition it is, as well as to highlight the differences between types of diabetes and dispel widespread myths. . on type 1 diabetes. As a research-focused charity, we believe in the power of research. Therefore, our role in communicating advances to the public is vital, and World Diabetes Day provides us with an opportunity to reach out and inspire a wider audience about the importance of medical research.

Why is it so important to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes through global days like World Diabetes Day?

Raising awareness about type 1 diabetes is crucial so that everyone knows the four key signs to look out for to help diagnose people earlier. One in four children is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes while in a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA occurs when a severe lack of insulin leaves the body unable to use glucose for energy, so it begins to use fat instead. This process releases chemicals called ketones, which acidify the blood, leading to coma and death if not treated immediately.

What’s next for JDRF? Are there any exciting projects coming up?

The most exciting news on the horizon is the first disease-modifying drug for type 1 diabetes. We are eagerly awaiting a decision from the US Drug Administration (FDA) on the approval of an immunotherapy drug. called teplizumab. JDRF has continuously funded the development and testing of this drug since its early stages. Groundbreaking JDRF-funded clinical trials have shown that teplizumab can delay type 1 diabetes for up to three years. It targets the immune attack that causes the condition, making it the first disease-modifying drug for type 1 diabetes.

More immunotherapy drugs are now progressing rapidly through clinical trials, which are exploring their use to prevent, treat and cure type 1 diabetes by protecting the remaining or transplanted insulin-producing beta cells.

Image Credit: Ahmet Misirligul / ShutterstockImage Credit: Ahmet Misirligul / Shutterstock

About Josie Clarkson

I am the research communications lead at JDRF UK. I have a BA in Neuroscience from the University of Nottingham and an MA in Science Communication from Imperial College. London. I’ve always been fascinated by what happens when things go wrong in the body and cause disease, and I’m passionate about helping people learn about their condition.

A recent career highlight was attending the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) conference in Sweden, which was the first major face-to-face conference on diabetes research since the pandemic. The conference was inspiring as so many world-leading researchers shared their exciting advances, from sophisticated integrated diabetes technology to promising clinical trial results for new treatments and cures. He was the beacon of positivity and hope that we all needed after a difficult few years.


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