Exploring the role of genes in the development of type 1 diabetes

January 25, 2020

Dr. Suheda Erener is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Suheda Erener is a postdoctoral fellow at the University
of British Columbia.

­­For years, researchers have been trying to find the potential causes for type 1 diabetes (T1D), the autoimmune disease in which the body destroys insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, resulting in insufficient insulin secretion and high blood glucose levels. The origins of the disease are still unknown, although research indicates that both genetics and the environment play a role.

Dr. Suheda Erener, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, is currently investigating whether micro-RNAs – a family of single-stranded molecules which are key regulators of gene expression and beta cell function – can predict the development of T1D.

She and her colleagues are profiling the micro-RNAs of children with recent onset diabetes. According to their research, some micro-RNAs play critical roles in T1D and may help establish which individuals are at risk of the disease.   

Micro-RNAs have emerged as important regulators of gene expression in the last two decades and changes in micro-RNA expression within tissues have been detected in many disorders including cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Identifying which genes and signaling pathways these micro-RNAs modulate may not only increase scientists’ understanding of the underlying causes of T1D, but also open up novel therapies to stop beta cell destruction and/or enhance their survival and function. As well, the accurate prediction of T1D using micro-RNAs as biomarkers in individuals with no symptoms may allow for the preservation of beta cell function early during the course of the disease, delaying its onset or curing it altogether.

For more informative articles on health and type 1 diabetes, visit our JDRF Blog. 

Securing coverage through private insurance : Meagan’s story

January 25, 2020

Meagan Lane, 26, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 15
years ago.

After spending weeks in hospital and ICU due to severe weight loss, inconsistent vision and pancreatitis, Meagan Lane was eventually released with a diagnosis that would change her life forever. At just 12 years old, Meagan had to learn how to manage the complicated world of type 1 diabetes.

With the support of her parents, she became independent and proactive—starting on a pump which helped her deliver her insulin automatically. An avid athlete, Meagan wanted life to remain as normal as possible. She played both Basketball and Volleyball for Team Saskatchewan in 2008 as well as  USports/CIS Volleyball for the University of Regina.

Meagan, now 26 years old, has seen the treatments for T1D improve ten-fold since being diagnosed 15 years ago. Keeping up to date with technology to manage her diabetes has been a priority for her. Upon a recent appointment with her endocrinologist, Meagan learned she would need to start with a new insulin pump that would give her the best control possible, but would also result on relying on a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)— an expense she wasn’t prepared for, despite being a working professional with private insurance.

As a French immersion teacher in Saskatchewan, Meagan had access to private health coverage. However, her coverage did not extend to a CGM. So, she took it upon herself to write a letter to her healthcare provider, outlining the direction that insulin pump treatment is moving towards CGM usage and the limitations her coverage currently imposed.

Meagan’s individual advocacy efforts were shortly rewarded. At first instance, she was unable to purchase a different insurance plan that would provide extra coverage for her T1D necessities, and any premium plan options were so expensive for what was covered that the cost nullified the coverage received. She was left with the realization that she might be confined by the plan she had and was concerned that, in the long run, she would have to choose between the career she loved or her health. Luckily after many conversations and correspondence, Meagan recieved the good news that her plan would  officially cover the cost of her CGM. 

Meagan’s story is not uncommon and that’s why JDRF has developed a resource to help you advocate to your employer or insurance provider. Our Toolkit will help you navigate the advocacy world so that you can contact decision makers to ensure your interests are being considered.

"Your voice DOES matter, and my story is evidence that advocacy works and that you can make a difference for yourself and for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who live with this disease," Meagan says.

 “My only advice for people with private coverage obstacles is to work with your endocrinologist and talk about your story with your providers,” she adds. “Your endocrinologist is also an incredible tool and resource in your advocacy. They can speak to your management, what you require, and why it is important for you to have coverage. Don’t feel like you are battling alone –you have an entire medical team who are on your side, too.”

To learn more about the toolkit and download it yourself visit www.jdrf.ca/accessforall

#BellLetsTalk about mental health and type 1 diabetes

January 25, 2020

As Canada continues to break its silence on the discussion around mental illness, this #BellLetsTalk Day we thought it was important to shed light on the power and resilience of the type 1 diabetes (T1D) community, who navigates the emotional challenges of living with a disease that has no cure, every day.

This past November, we launched an awareness campaign for National Diabetes Awareness Month called Dear Type 1™. We asked the community to write an open letter to their disease, and the responses we received were overwhelming. As we riffled through hundreds of entries, we learned of the struggles and emotional burdens you face on a day-to-day basis, either as someone living with the disease, or as a friend or family member of someone living with T1D. Some called their diabetes names — cursing its existence — while others explained how they turned their adversity into strength and motivation, in order to live a healthier life.

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that requires 24/hour attention, constant check-ins with your physical and mental self, poking and prodding and so much more — resulting in high levels of anxiety, which can also lead to depression.

#BellLetsTalkDay is a day dedicated to breaking down the stigma that comes with mental illness, and we wanted to share some of the #DearType1 stories that spell out the emotional burden of living with this disease in such a raw and honest way.

We thank those of you who took the time to submit your letters, helping us raise awareness, break down some of the misconceptions often associated with T1D and drive action in mental health and T1D. Your candid insights and honest thoughts about this disease are what makes us work harder for a cure every day.

Until we find that cure, we will continue to advocate for you and fuel leading-edge research to create a world where everyone touched by T1D can live healthier, safer and easier lives.







This #BellLetsTalk Day, help fight the stigma, reach out to friends and family and offer your support…

Are you newly diagnosed and struggling with how to manage it all? JDRF offers programs that connect you with the T1D community to find emotional support and helpful resources to tackle the daily challenges of living with type 1

Learn more about it here.