Our families are thinking ‘100’ to commemorate 100 years of insulin

This June, Canadians from coast to coast will be coming together to unite, raise funds and help accelerate the pace of type 1 diabetes (T1D) research as part of the 2021 Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes for JDRF. This year is a big one…we’re commemorating 100 years since the discovery of the life-changing drug known as insulin – discovered right here in Canada. Because of that, we’re challenging our participants to ‘think 100.’ Whether it’s 100KM of walking, running, bottle returns, sit ups…the possibilities are endless!

We wanted to feature some of our favourite 100 challenges that we’ve seen thus far. Read on to see what our amazing participants are doing to ‘think 100!’

100KM for T1D – Lindsay AND Cole

Dynamic-duo, Lindsay and her partner Cole – who has been walking for 21 years – , are full swing ahead with their challenge. This year, they thought they’d channel their competitive spirit and take it up a notch with their 100 challenge by running 100km by June 13th!

It’s been a fun challenge, and everyone has been so supportive of my progress. Cole is training for a Half Ironman this summer, so he’s been a great motivator and running partner!”

Team Gunderson will be breaking a sweat until event day, celebrating their huge ‘100’ accomplishment on event day.

“Team Gunderson will be at the Walk – rain or shine, every step of the way!”

100 Vaccines for 100 years – Danny and family

This will be Danny and his family’s 19th year Walking with JDRF. This is also the 20th year since his eldest daughter, Aviva, was diagnosed with T1D.

“My goal, to go along with the 100th anniversary theme, will be to administer 100 COVID vaccine doses at a mobile vaccination site each month, until we don’t have to do this anymore. I will do this in addition to caring for my patients in my family medicine office since vaccinating is a another way that I can help to protect their health and the well being of the community.”

Like all parents, there is nothing Danny and his wife Debbie won’t do to help find a cure for T1D.

“We are honouring the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin.”

100 letters to the community – Tilly

In an effort to give back to the community, Tilly’s 100 challenge involves writing 100 letters to residents of long-term care homes.

“The idea came about from a family brainstorming discussion. Tilly’s brother suggested writing letters and she thought it was a great idea!”says Jo – Tilly’s mom.

Tilly hopes to bring smiles to the faces of those in long term care with her words, adding that especially during COVID, people are missing their loved ones, and don’t have the ability to have face-to-face conversations much anymore.

“It’s a way of giving back to the community, as they’ve always been so supportive to her lived experience with T1D, and her fundraising.”

A dollar for diabetes research (Dayden and Sylvia)

Dayden was diagnosed with T1D when he was in second grade. It was a life-changing event for him and his family, but their school community were quick to jump in and support the Aspins.

My first conversation with another type 1 diabetic happened to be my son’s teacher. The school had been so supportive of him and his needs, so we’re challenging the students to each bring in a dollar for T1D research.”

Mom, Sylvia, says the school has been overwhelmingly supportive of his challenge.

Not only are we raising dollars as part of the challenge, but we’re removing stigma, raising awareness and promoting the importance of what JDRF does.”

We love to hear these stories from our dedicated T1D families, and are so grateful for the overwhelming participation in the 2021 Walk, and our 100 challenge!

Have you signed up for the Walk yet? Join Canadians from coast to coast and start your 100 challenge today. We hope to see you on June 13th!

Federal Budget Includes New Funding for Type 1 Diabetes Research, National Diabetes Framework and Expanded Access to Disability Tax Credit

JDRF Canada is thrilled that federal budget 2021 includes new funding for type 1 diabetes research, as well as support for a national diabetes framework and improvements to the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).   

Of the $35 million investment to honour the centenary of the discovery of insulin,  JDRF is awaiting further details to better understand how this investment will support the renewal of the JDRF-CIHR Partnership to Defeat Diabetes, as JDRF had recommended a renewed research investment of $15M to be matched by JDRF and its donors for a total research impact of $30M.  

In fall 2020, our youth ambassadors took to the Hill virtually as part of our Kids for a Cure lobby day. Our delegates met with Members of Parliament and Senators to raise awareness about the daily challenges faced by those living with T1D and the need for more Canadian research in this field – specifically through the Partnership. 

The JDRF-CIHR Partnership to Defeat Diabetes is a landmark collaboration between the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and JDRF Canada to support transformative type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. This unique partnership ensures that T1D remains a priority in Canadian health research and is based on a shared vision of improved care, treatment, outcomes and cures for those living with T1D.  

Continued investment in diabetes research and care will ensure those living with the disease can live healthier, safer and easier lives. It will also ensure that Canada continues as a world leader in T1D clinical trials and translational research.  

Federal budget 2021 acknowledges the importance of investing in diabetes care by including funding to establish a national framework for diabetes. The federal government appears poised to take on the work proposed by Liberal MP Sonia Sidhu in her Private Member’s Bill C-237, National Framework For Diabetes Act, which recently passed second reading in the House of Commons. Inspired by Diabetes 360 initiative first proposed by Diabetes Canada with support and input from JDRF Canada and other diabetes organizations, Diabetes 360 aims to develop meaningful targets designed to stem the rising tide of diabetes based on an innovative model that was used globally to tackle HIV/AIDS. 

The need for a comprehensive diabetes strategy is becoming increasingly important given the rising costs of complications associated with diabetes and the rapid rise in incidence over the past decade.   

The federal budget has also made changes to the eligibility criteria for the DTC, making key activities such as exercise, carbohydrate counting, medical appointments and time spent recovering from high or low blood sugars eligible to be counted against the 14 hours per week requirement. These changes are positive and should make it easier for more people with T1D to qualify.  

As we mark the centenary of the discovery of insulin this year, it’s fitting to continue investing in crucial partnerships and strategies that will ensure those living with diabetes can stay healthy until a cure is found. We are grateful for this commitment by the Government of Canada. 

Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Discovery of Insulin

May 4th, 2021

“Insulin is not a cure for diabetes; it is a treatment.” – Dr. Frederick Banting

2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin by researchers Dr. Frederick Banting and Charles Best at the University of Toronto.

Before insulin treatment, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (T1D) meant inevitable death for children. T1D is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin hormone. Without insulin, the body is unable to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Although there is research being conducted on ways to screen for and prevent diabetes, and a greater understanding of its causes, it is still not preventable and is often diagnosed after the disease has been progressing in a patient for years.

Canada is also seeing a rise in T1D, and the reason is as of today, still unknown.

In 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered that the pancreas produced the insulin hormone under the directorship of John Macleod at the University of Toronto, by researchers Dr. Frederick Banting, Dr. John Macleod and Charles Best.

With the help of James Collip, they purified a synthetic version of insulin and produced the first real treatment for diabetes.

To this day, it remains one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in the medical field. Banting and Macleod earned a Nobel Prize for their work in 1923. It has been called ‘Canada’s gift to the world’.

While there have been many advancements in technology and delivery of insulin over the past 100 years; either by injection or pump, it remains the only treatment for T1D.

So, as we commemorate the remarkable achievement of the discovery of insulin and what it has meant for people living with T1D, we recognize too the need to move beyond insulin and aggressively work towards a cure.

JDRF was founded to cure T1D. Every day, our research moves us closer towards that goal.

To cure T1D, we need to do two things: we need to reverse the autoimmune response that caused the disease; and that destroys insulin-producing beta cells, while finding a way to protect and restore their function. Our cure research is advancing on both fronts towards the ultimate goal of freedom from insulin, for people of all ages with T1D.

Cell therapies, including islet transplantation has shown us that replacing insulin-producing cells in people with T1D can provide freedom from insulin in a select few people.

JDRF’s goal is to advance this principle by developing safe and effective cell replacement products that will be widely accessible to people with T1D, providing long-lasting freedom from insulin without the need for chronic broad immunosuppression.

Canadian researchers have always been at the forefront of cutting-edge research into T1D and are working on JDRF funded projects today that may help to develop treatments that will cure type 1 – and prevent it too.

What would a cure mean?

“Helping JDRF find a cure for T1D will prevent kids other from losing their childhood. A 5-year-old kid should think about playing with his friends, not his next insulin injection. We have extremely talented scientists working on better treatments and cures. They need our help.” – Fanny Guimont-Desrochers, PhD, SCYM, Immunology Research Scientist – Diagnosed at age 5

“The discovery of insulin 100 years ago has kept us alive with this disease. Now we need to take action so that we can live a near normal life by using new technologies while we accelerate our focus on finding a cure for the next generation.

A cure would mean that me, my friends, my son and all the rest of us would no longer live the burden of managing this disease.” – Dr. Mike Riddell, Type 1 diabetes researcher. Diagnosed at age 5, and whose son was diagnosed with T1D four years ago.

Living with T1D is very difficult. And unless you live with T1D you do not understand how very difficult life truly is. It is a 24 hour a day 365 days a year burden. The psychological impact of this disease can not be underestimated for both me and my family. So, that is why I have dedicated a good portion of my life to helping JDRF move our mission forward.

JDRF leads the world in T1D research and we need to accelerate the pace of our research to get closer to our goal of a world without diabetes.

I truly believe that this is an achievable goal. For me, a world without diabetes would mean a number of things. But top among them would be never again having to worry that my children will have to live with T1D. That would mean everything.” – Lorne Schiff, Former JDRF Board Chair, Diagnosed at age 7

T1D research is progressing at incredible speed, and we are in a new era of discovery and innovation. JDRF is championing this progress, investing in diabetes research that will move us beyond insulin and accelerate towards a cure. Learn more about our #CampaignToAccelerate and how you can become involved.

COVID-19 and T1D – Together, We Can Keep Our Community Safe

Team of experienced biologists working on microscopes in laboratory
Update: May 3, 2021:

Ontario: As of May 10, 2021 anyone over 16 with type 1 diabetes can book a vaccine throughout the province.

Alberta: Children aged 12 -15 with type 1 diabetes are no longer required to present a doctor’s note when booking a vaccine. Anyone over 16 with type 1 diabetes is also eligible for a vaccine.

Update: April 27, 2021:

We have received many questions about vaccination for children and adolescents with T1D. Below is the latest recommendation from the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI):

9. NACI recommends that COVID-19 vaccines should not be offered routinely to individuals who are not in the authorized age group. (Strong NACI Recommendation)

a. However, a complete vaccine series with a Pfizer-BioNTech may be offered to individuals 12-15 years of age who are at very high risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19 (e.g., due to a pre-existing medical condition known to be associated with increased risk of hospitalization or mortality) or are at increased risk of exposure (e.g., due to living in a congregate care facility), if a risk assessment deems that the benefits outweigh the potential risks for the individual, and if informed consent with the individual and the parent or guardian includes discussion about the insufficiency of evidence on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in this population. (Discretionary NACI Recommendation)

Alberta is currently offering vaccines to individuals in the age group with T1D. We will keep monitoring the rest of Canada and provide updates accordingly once the provincial recommendations on children and adolescents are revised.  

Original post:

April 26, 2021

Most of the country is now finding itself in the grips of the pandemic’s third wave, with many provinces back in lockdown. It has been a very long year, filled with fear and uncertainty – but hope is on the horizon. Vaccines have arrived and the rollout, while not without frustration, has been speeding up.

JDRF has been advocating for vaccination priority for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in most provinces and we’ve seen positive change.

While this is undoubtedly good news, we cannot let up now. Until enough people are fully vaccinated and the rate of new COVID-19 cases declines, we must continue to take every precaution to prevent exposure to both ourselves and those around us. We will not be safe until we are all safe.

We have learned that having T1D doesn’t increase risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19, but that adults with T1D are at increased risk of serious outcomes if they do develop the disease. Age and having other health concerns such as high blood pressure, underlying heart or lung conditions, obesity – and potentially also high HbA1c – seem to further increase risk of serious outcomes.

Below are updated recommendations from CoronavirusDiabetes.org on how to best protect yourself and others from contracting COVID-19. Because it is possible to spread COVID-19 even when a person is asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, it is important to follow these guidelines at all times to protect ourselves and those around us.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, please contact your healthcare professional and get immediately tested.

T1D and COVID-19

Early detection of COVID-19 or other health issues can be lifesaving – if you get sick, get treated quickly. 

Measure temperature daily with a thermometer and check your heart rate with a watch. Track any changes.

Never stop taking insulin or other medications, even when you become sick. Discuss insulin or other medication dosage changes with a doctor.

Make sure you have a diabetes-specific sick day management plan ready, just in case. 

Know the warning signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and seek immediate medical attention for symptoms including fruity smelling breath, vomiting, weight loss, dehydration, confusion, and hyperventilation.

Higher than average blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes are a risk factor for more severe COVID-19 outcomes. Here are some tips to help you maintain more consistent blood glucose readings:

  • Test blood sugar levels more often if you are under more stress than normal.
  • Contact your doctor or health professionals, ideally over a virtual visit, if your blood glucose numbers are consistently out of range.
  • Familiarize yourself with how to check for ketones. If you have adequate supplies, check for ketones regularly regardless of blood sugar levels.
  • Make sure you have enough supplies (test strips, glucagon, pens etc.) on hand.
  • Consider joining a T1D community, and take advantage of JDRF support.
  • Being overweight/obese and smoking are also major risk factors for more severe COVID-19 outcomes – try and maintain a balanced diet along with daily activity.
  • If you smoke or vape, it’s time to quit.
  • Try and get good sleep. At least 7 hours if you’re an adult. And a minimum of 9 hours for children.

Reach out for help if you are overwhelmed and finding it difficult to manage your T1D along with the added stress of protecting yourself from COVID-19. Speak to your healthcare provider or support network about accessing additional resources and help.

For you and your loved ones:

  • Basic precautions save lives
  • Wash your hands every time you come home, or after handling/opening a delivery/package etc. Always maintain social distancing from non-household members, including while outdoors. Wear a cloth mask or face covering any time you’re within 2 meters/6 feet of individuals outside your home, especially in settings where social distancing is not possible. The mask should be ideally 3 layers and include a filter and be very well fitted to your face. Check to ensure that air isn’t escaping from the sides or top of the mask.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to aerosolized particles – e.g. indoor spaces with low ventilation, especially featuring loud conversation or singing. Avoid spending time indoors anywhere that is not your household without a well-fitted face covering.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and avoid touching your face.
  • Minimize trips outside of your home and try to avoid busy times or crowds when you do. 

While these are the same precautions we have been advised to take throughout the pandemic, it’s not yet the time to relax these restrictions. By adhering to these guidelines, you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.

FDA Designates TTP399 a Breakthrough Therapy for People Living with T1D

Closeup portrait, young scientist in blue gown looking into microscope. Isolated lab background. Research and development.

May 4th, 2021

On April 15, 2021 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted breakthrough therapy designation for vTv Therapeutics’ TTP399 as an adjunct therapy to insulin for type 1 diabetes (T1D). This designation is intended to expedite the development and review of drugs for serious and life-threatening conditions.

TTP399 is a liver-selective glucokinase (or GK) activator. GK regulates blood sugar levels in the body. When blood-sugar levels rise, activation of GK in the liver stimulates glucose utilization, lowering glucose levels in the blood.

In a JDRF-funded phase II clinical trial called Simplici-T1, TTP399 significantly improved HbA1c in people with T1D. Additionally, trial participants who received TTP399 had reduced insulin doses and lower incidences of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and no increase in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

After several human studies in type 2 diabetes, JDRF began funding vTv Therapeutics in 2017 to test TTP399 in people with T1D. These positive topline results from the phase II clinical trial follow similarly positive results obtained in a previous smaller clinical study reported by JDRF in June, 2019.

The next step will be upcoming pivotal trials and a study to test the effects of TTP399 on diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

This is an exciting development in research focused on improving lives for people living with T1D today. JDRF Canada will keep on top of the latest research results for potential impact to Canadians with T1D.