Here’s why these families are In to End Diabetes

Here’s why these families are In to End Diabetes 

July 17, 2020

At JDRF our mission is to find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D) and its complications through the support of research. Every dollar we are able to direct toward this critical research comes from our donors. Some of them have joined our exclusive giving club In To End Diabetes” by committing to a monthly donation. With their ongoing generosity and dedication to ending T1D,  monthly donors are accelerating the pace of research for this invasive, and demanding disease which affects over 300,000 Canadians – children and adults alike. This month, we wanted to recognize some of our amazing monthly donors and thank them for their support. Their stories will help you understand why they’re In to End Diabetes. Check them out below.

Shelagh. Calgary, AB.

Shelagh’s nine-year-old son Graham was diagnosed with T1D two years ago. After feeling unwell for some time, he was eventually given an official diagnosis and now remains resilient as ever – bearing a tough exterior while rocking his ‘I have diabetes and I’m allowed to have candy’ t-shirt.

“I worry about him all the time,” said Shelagh, who says she’d do anything to take this 24/hour disease away from him and believes that nothing in his life should be restricted because of T1D.

Being a monthly donor for Shelagh means helping kids make this disease livable and manageable, and eventually turning type one into type none. She says aside from the research JDRF avidly funds, JDRF events also keep her son excited, and hopeful.

“The first gala we ever went to was a blast,” she said. “As we were leaving [Graham] turned to us and said ‘See? I told you diabetes can be fun!’”

Jill. Halifax, NS.

Watching her niece deal with the stressors that came with her T1D diagnosis back in 2016 was tough for Jill. Observing how she manages her disease every day, she says, is both inspiring and heartbreaking, and served as a trigger point for Jill to give back in any way that she could.

 “I heard of JDRF through the radio and thought I’d find a way to get involved.” Jill added that monthly donations provide her with the opportunity to regularly fund T1D research for people like her niece.

Jill says she wants to get to a place where her niece could go to bed at night, not having to worry about managing a 24/hour disease. Through monthly donations, she hopes to one day help find a cure for her, and give her a life free of worry.

“JDRF is an international organization – [they’re] all over and working hard to help people who live with type 1…I’ll do anything I can to make her life a little simpler.”

Michelle. Regina, SK.

Several years ago, Michelle used to spend most of her days in the air. She flew as a commercial pilot until she began to feel unwell. It wasn’t until she had an aviation medical examination done that she discovered she was living with type 1 diabetes. 

As a result, Michelle was forced to change careers, and now works as an engineer.

“I almost don’t remember life before diabetes,” she said, adding how much of the day she spends thinking about, managing and monitoring her diabetes.

She decided that JDRF was an organization she wanted to give back to, and on top of being a monthly donor, she now volunteers. “JDRF does such important work…having a sense of community is a huge, and just normalizing the physical and mental side of type 1 is something I want to help with – supporting families and people [with T1D] the best I can.”

Giles. Toronto, ON.

Giles describes his fourteen-year-old son as the ‘poster child for T1D.’

Between school and AA hockey, he maintains stellar blood glucose levels and continues to adapt to the ever-evolving diabetes technology, rocking his pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM) on and off the ice.

“He doesn’t really like doing T1D-specific things,” says Giles, “He likes playing regular sports, and doesn’t want to be defined by [his disease].”

The family has been part of JDRF’s monthly giving program for yearsand while they are lucky to have coverage for their son’s diabetes equipment, Giles recognizes other families aren’t. “Everyone should have access to that kind of technology…we know JDRF is advocating for that.”

“This is a disease that can be cured, and we will give as much as we possibly can to help achieve that.”

Feeling inspired by these amazing monthly donors? You can also join the movement to help drive diabetes research forward. Join us today and tell the world that you are In to End Diabetes.

Join us today and tell the world that you are In to End Diabetes.

Become a monthly donor by September 15 and thanks to a generous family from Vancouver, your first 6 gifts will be doubled!*

*Up to 20,000

Advocacy in a post-Covid-19 world

June 23, 2020

Your stories make all the difference.

The COVID-19 pandemic we’ve all been living through presents both a problem and an opportunity in terms of JDRF’s advocacy efforts.

As quarantine restrictions are lifted and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the stark reality we’re facing is that all levels of government have had to expend vast sums of public money on unbudgeted COVID-19 relief efforts. In the post-pandemic world, securing public funding for diabetes technologies is sure to be an uphill battle.

At the same time, these governments are increasingly seeing the value of virtual care models to help deliver health care at a distance.

The crisis has also demonstrated the important role that remote monitoring technologies such as continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and flash glucose monitoring (FGM) can play in reducing physical contact between frontline health care workers and their patients.

Working together, we can still achieve public funding for these technologies, making them affordable and accessible for all and helping reduce the out-of-pocket costs for Canadians living with T1D.

Please email your provincial or territorial representative today in support of JDRF’s #AccessForAll campaign.

When submitting your email it’s important to personalize your message by explaining how public coverage for continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and/or flash glucose monitoring (FGM) would be life-changing for those living with type 1 diabetes. This will ensure you are sending an impactful message to decisionmakers.

Before approving public spending, elected officials want to know about the difference that spending will make in the lives of their constituents. Your personal story will make all the difference. It’s the impact the technology will make on your life that will move them to action.

Personalizing your letter is easy. Here are a few examples of Advocate emails sent this June:

“Our daughter was diagnosed at age 4 1/2 in January of 2018…[S]he suffered a severe hypoglycemic event where she was losing consciousness and ended up in the hospital. We got a CGM days after this happened and have had much better results… [CGM] allows us to keep her in range longer and have a better A1C. This will prevent long term health complications and is more cost effective than hospital visits and complications from T1D.~Susan Sinclair, Vancouver, BC”


“Our daughter has had type 1 diabetes for 10 years and her continuous glucose monitor has been life changing. It helps keep her safe – she doesn’t always feel her low blood sugars and used to have problems during the night. The continuous glucose monitor allows our family to get much needed rest during the night with the comfort of knowing she is safe. ~Michele Patton, Misssissauga, ON”


“This device allows my daughter the independence she deserves, while keeping her safe. Something as simple as going to bed for the night, isn’t simple with diabetes. A CGM with it’s alarms is a game changer! ~Ann-Marie Hulse, Newmarket, ON”


“I’ve been a type 1 diabetic for 27 years, always struggling with low blood sugars with no symptoms… Five years ago I seized, again, and I knew if I wanted to live I needed to get a CGM… I have had perfect blood sugar… [and] two healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies with the help of the CGM… CGM and FGM is not just life changing, its life saving. It needs to be covered! ~Jennifer Dyck, Winkler, MB”


“Myself and two of our three children live with Type 1 diabetes. Having the Dexcom cgm for all of us helps me to sleep at night knowing that I’ll be woken up if any of us go low. It makes a super stressful life a little bit easier! ~Robyn Devine, Blackfalds, AB”

Help us continue to advocate for the T1D community

I have type 1 diabetes (T1D) and am worried I’ll have to go into the hospital during the COVID-19 outbreak. How can I prepare?

I have type 1 diabetes (T1D) and am worried I’ll have to go into the hospital during the COVID-19 outbreak. How can I prepare?

April 22, 2020

Over the last few weeks we have been sharing tips on how to best manage your T1D at home during the COVID-19 outbreak when physical distancing is essential and self-isolation may be necessary. We understand that the thought of a hospital stay right now could be especially worrisomewhen facilities may be overburdened and there is concern around the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Below are a few tips to help you better cope in case a hospital visit is required:
Don’t delay visiting the hospital if you are worried about acute health concerns, especially diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is a serious complication of T1D that can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. In general, emergency departments and hospital wards are implementing all measures possible to prevent the spread of infection and are highly organized in terms of dealing separately with patients with established COVID-19, presumptive COVID-19, and without COVID-19.
Notify your own healthcare team if you can. If possible, have your doctor call ahead of your arrival to ensure staff know that you have T1D, the medical issue you are going to the hospital for, and your arrival time.
Accept that T1D management will change during a hospital stay. Hospitals have policies for diabetes management that will mean changing your T1D regimen. Protocols vary by hospital, and some facilities may not allow the use of your own supplies and T1D technology, but experts advise that you bring your own supplies and be prepared to use them if possible.
If you use an insulin pump, remember that it is a self-management tool. If you are unable to self-manage your T1D (because of confusion or loss of consciousness), the pump will probably be temporarily discontinued and you will receive injections of long-acting and short-acting insulin instead. Be ready to relinquish this control, if it is necessary to provide you with the best care.
Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are not approved for use in hospitalized patients in Canada. You may be permitted to wear it to monitor trends and benefit from alarms, but readings will likely not be used by hospital personnel to adjust medication or insulin doses.
If you are receiving food at the hospital, you will likely be prescribed a diet appropriate for your age. In adults, this is usually an 1800 kcal “diabetes diet”. The typical meal on this diet has approximately 60g of carbohydrate per meal – but be sure to check with the hospital staff for more information on what is provided to you.
During infection, injury, or acute stress, insulin needs can increase, and blood glucose control can be challenging during a hospital stay. Glucose targets in hospitals are usually 4-10 mmol/L.
To assist in communicating your needs related to T1D to medical staff, you can consider preparing information about your treatment regimen to bring with you – whether you use an insulin pump or multiple daily injections. While these communication tools were developed with advice of practicing endocrinologists, they do not replace the personalized medical advice that you will receive in a hospital setting.
Don’t be shy to advocate for yourself. Most hospitals will have an endocrinology or diabetes team on call who can provide advice to physicians with less experience in prescribing insulin and caring for people with T1D. Don’t be afraid to ask, and take advantage of this resource.
Bring your own T1D supplies. Medical experts and many hospital staff are recommending that anyone with T1D bring at least two weeks of supplies with them if the are headed to the hospital.
What should I bring?
      1. Blood glucose monitoring equipment
 If you have one, take your CGM and a sufficient supply of sensors, transmitter and back-up transmitter, adhesives/tapes, pre-insertion wipes, batteries and/or charging device, cables.
 Standard blood glucose monitoring supplies: glucose meter, lancing device and a sufficient supply of lancets and strips. You may need to use the hospital’s meter, but could ask to use your own lancing device as it likely has smaller gauge needles.

2. Insulin and injection or pump supplies

If you use a pump: sufficient supplies (including reservoirs and filling mechanism (or pods if you use OmniPod), infusion sets, inserter devices), charging cable and/or battery

 If you use pens or syringes: a sufficient supply of pens and pentips, or syringes. Syringes are typically available, but, if permitted, you may feel more comfortable using what you are accustomed to
       3. Vials of all insulins used, with back-up vials. Many hospitals do not carry all types of insulins, so if you would prefer not to change, bring your own.
      4. Supply of treatments for non-severe lows (glucose tablets, juice etc.)
      5. Glucagon (if available) 
      6. Ketone test strips (should be available, but good to take with you)
      7. Copies of your healthcare team’s contact information
      8. If possible, a copy of your last prescription
      9. Details of your insulin regimen to share with medical staff: if medical staff need to manage your T1D on your behalf, this is information that they need communicated clearly and quickly. For example, if you use an insulin pump, try to download and bring a printout of the device settings, showing the basal profile, the profile of your carbohydrate-to-insulin ratios, the profile of your insulin sensitivity factor, targets for correction doses and active insulin time. Also include your typical total daily dose of insulin.
Consider virtual options to stay connected to family and other caregivers to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19. Keep in mind that hospitals have a responsibility to prevent the spread of infection – more than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. This means that hospitals may require testing and self-isolation of family caregivers who have symptoms of COVID-19, or of patients in the hospital. If usual caregivers can’t be present for their family member with T1D in the hospital, alternate caregivers may be asked to help out. In addition, options to connect virtually with family members and members of your healthcare team can help to support your time in the hospital.
For more information, visit
Do you have questions about T1D and COVID-19? Email us at

A letter to the T1D community from JDRF President and CEO Dave Prowten

March 26, 2020


Dear JDRF family,

Over the last few weeks, I have been blown away by the strength, resilience and generosity demonstrated by you, our JDRF family. I am reminded of how privileged we are to have your continued support. Thank you for everything you do.

Because of you, JDRF is providing people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) resources and support to navigate these challenging times. Here’s what has been done so far:

  • We have set up an information page about T1D and COVID-19, as well as a mechanism to answer your questions via email.
  • We are hosting regular online events so you can ask experts your questions about T1D and COVID-19. Check out our Facebook Live with one of our researchers, endocrinologist Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret.
  • We are working with industry partners to ensure people with T1D can continue to get the diabetes supplies they need.
  • We have created a panel of medical experts from coast-to-coast to consult on the virus and T1D.

While we all do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19, the day-to-day challenges of living with T1D remain. Our commitment to better health and quality of life for people living with T1D is stronger than ever and, with your help, we will continue to champion the short and long term needs of people living with T1D and their families.

In a time when social distancing is required, it is more important than ever to feel connected. We are working to find the best ways to remain engaged with you during this exceptional time. We are here for you and thinking of you.

Please stay safe,

Dave Prowten
President & CEO
JDRF Canada

Severe lows? Spray it in the nose! New Nasal Glucagon for severe hypoglycemia available in Canada!

March 24, 2020

Sponsored Content by Ei Lilly Canada 

Eli Lilly Canada is pleased to announce the approval and availability of BaqsimiTM, a new rescue treatment for severe hypoglycemia, demonstrating Lilly’s commitment to simplifying the management of severe hypoglycemia through medicines and patient solutions. The formulation was invented in Canada and is changing the lives of people with diabetes around the world. Baqsimi (glucagon nasal powder 3 mg) was approved by Health Canada with ethical status, making it available at the pharmacy with or without a prescription. Baqsimi is indicated for the treatment of severe hypoglycemic reactions when impaired consciousness precludes oral carbohydrates, which may occur in the management of insulin-treated patients with diabetes mellitus, whether type 1 or type 2.i Baqsimi is a compact nasal spray that is portable and does not require reconstitution. It is indicated in children 4 years and above and is now widely available in pharmacies across Canada.

For Canadians who have diabetes and who are treated with insulin, the fear of going ‘low’ (hypoglycemia) never goes away. When an individual has a severe low (severe hypoglycemia), they are unable to treat themselves, and they need help from someone else to recover. For people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who are on medications like insulin, there can be many causes of severe hypoglycemia. These include not eating enough, over-exercising, drinking alcohol, or even using diabetes medications incorrectly.ii

“The daily worry of a ‘severe low’ and the complexity of using injectable glucagon creates an emotional toll for both the person living with diabetes and their caregivers,” says Dave Prowten, President and CEO at JDRF Canada. “Having a new rescue option that is easy to administer with a single nasal puff by a caregiver will alleviate a significant burden, and it has the potential to save lives.”

Baqsimi is a ready-to-use form of glucagon, which requires no reconstitution or priming. It is administered in a single fixed dose that is sprayed in the nose, where it is passively absorbed. Baqsimi does not need to be refrigerated and can be stored at temperatures up to 30°C/86°F in its shrink-wrapped tube.

For more information about Baqsimi and how you can be prepared for an unexpected severe hypoglycemic event, please visit,


[i} Baqsimi Canadian Product Monograph – September 2019.

[ii} Diabetes Canada – Severe Hypoglycemia – Last accessed on January 17 –

Novel dual-hormone artificial pancreas offers hope for better management of T1D

March 5, 2020

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disorder that is often difficult to manage. Despite recent advances in innovative medical devices and educational tools, many people with T1D often experience blood sugar swings that can put them at risk of complications including hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Adding adjunct therapy to existing insulin treatment regimens could soon change that.

The artificial pancreas (also known as a closed-loop) is a promising technology consisting of a system of devices that closely mimics the glucose-regulating function of a healthy pancreas. It comprises a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), an insulin pump, and a computer algorithm that enables these devices to communicate and automate insulin delivery according to a person’s needs in real time. The artificial pancreas systems that are currently available automate basal insulin, and still require the user to give manual boluses via their insulin pump, but research working to develop a fully automated system. One approach towards a fully automated system is incorporating additional hormones or drugs.

Dr. Haidar
Dr. Legault
Dr. Yale
Dr. Tsoukas

Drs. Ahmad Haidar, Laurent Legault, Michael Tsoukas and Jean-Franҫois Yale are a team of JDRF-funded researchers at McGill University (Montreal) who are the first to test the addition of pramlintide (a synthetic form of amylin, which is a hormone co-secreted with insulin by the healthy pancreas) to an artificial pancreas system – a combined treatment they hypothesize would help patients achieve optimal glucose control during the day. Previous studies have shown that pramlintide prevents blood sugar spikes following a meal through affecting digestion and the release of other hormones. Pramlintide – which is already approved and available in the USA – can be taken by injection, but is rarely used. In this study, the researchers set out to test the effects of pramlintide when delivered together with insulin in an artificial pancreas system.

Blood sugar levels in people wearing an artificial pancreas (AP) with insulin alone vs an AP with insulin + pramlintide.
Starting blood sugars were 5-10 mmol/L. Adapted from Haidar et al, Diabetes Care 2020; 43: 597-606.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers conducted a clinical trial in adults with T1D who wore artificial pancreas systems with or without pramlintide during inpatient visits at the Research Institute of McGill University Health Centre. The results of the trial showed that adding pramlintide to rapid-acting insulin in an artificial pancreas system improved glucose control compared to rapid-acting insulin alone, without increasing hypoglycemia. In the next stage of their research, Dr. Haidar and his team are conducting another clinical trial to test whether the insulin-plus-pramlintide artificial pancreas system can eliminate the need for carb-counting in adolescents and adults with T1D.

This exciting research into insulin adjunct therapy brings us closer to less burdensome management of T1D and a better quality of life.

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. 

Using scaffolding technology to improve islet graft outcomes in patients with type 1 diabetes

December 2, 2019

JDRF has supported research in beta cell replacement for more than a decade, aiming to make a stem cell-based treatment for type 1 diabetes (T1D) a reality. The goal is to enable a large number of people with T1D to benefit from a procedure similar to islet transplantation, whereby transfer of donor-derived islets enables long-term insulin independence in some patients. Using a renewable stem cell source would overcome the reliance on donor islets for the procedure, opening up the possibility of treating far more patients than is currently feasible.

Another challenge in developing this approach as a long-lasting treatment for T1D is ensuring optimum survival and function of the transplanted cells. In recent years, researchers have worked diligently to make islet transplants more successful through the use of ‘scaffolding’ technology. A scaffold is an artificial structure capable of supporting three-dimensional tissue formation.

Dr. Purushothaman Kuppan, a JDRF-funded investigator at the University of Alberta, is developing a new, modifiable scaffold device designed to increase islet graft survival and function among people with T1D, which would improve transplantation outcomes and also reduce or eliminate the need for systemic immunosuppressive drugs.

On the basis of work carried out by his mentor, Dr. Gregory Korbutt, Dr. Kuppan and his colleagues are using an innovative approach to construct a retrievable, bioactive, 3D porous scaffold that will permit the creation of well-vascularized and oxygenated transplant sites outside of the liver – the common transplant site for islets – while simultaneously incorporating proteins to help keep the cells healthy. The device will be further adapted to locally secrete immunosuppressive agents to protect transplanted cells from rejection.

As part of this project, Dr. Kuppan will determine whether pre-implantation of the scaffold creates ideal conditions to support islet transplantation, compared with implantation of islets and the scaffold simultaneously. Through this JDRF-funded work, he is hopeful that this promising technology will be used as a key component of beta cell replacement therapy for T1D in the future.

Excess risk of heart failure in women versus men with T1D

November 4, 2019

People living with diabetes are predisposed to several different complications given their fluctuating glucose levels, which can lead to stress on their organs. When it comes to cardiovascular problems, the extra risk conferred by having type 1 diabetes (T1D) may be greater in women than men.

Heart failure is a common, but often underappreciated cardiovascular complication of T1D. According to a paper recently published in the European peer-reviewed scientific journal, Diabetologia, T1D was associated with a 47% increased excess risk of heart failure in women compared with men.

After reviewing 14 related studies published between January 1966 and November 2018 that included over 12 million people and 253,260 cases of heart failure, researchers noted that women with T1D or type 2 diabetes had a higher excess risk than men, although that presented by T1D was greater than type 2 diabetes (47% vs 9%).

Among several explanations is that diabetes confers a much better chance of developing coronary heart disease – a cause of heart failure – among females. In addition, some studies have found that women are undertreated for glycemic control or management of cardiovascular risk factors compared to men.

Further research is needed to explain the reason for the difference between the sexes, particularly since the data analyzed in this study were limited to what was found in the previously published studies and did not include information on the duration of each person’s diabetes.

Healthcare professionals recommend that all people with diabetes practice a healthy, active lifestyle wherever possible in order to lower their risk of cardiovascular complications including heart failure.

JDRF is committed to funding research that helps people with T1D live longer, healthier and safer lives until cures are found. The studies in this area strive to advance drugs and devices that improve glycemic control, reduce the risk of complications, and enhance mental health aspects of T1D.

For more information on JDRF-funded research that focuses on bettering lives, click here.

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

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and JDRF join forces to accelerate breakthroughs in stem cell-based research

September 18, 2019 

Stem cell-based research has the potential to play a key role in developing a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D). JDRF Canada is delighted to partner with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes to announce a new funding opportunity that will see $6M awarded to investigators driving stem cell-based therapies for T1D. This funding opportunity is part of JDRF and CIHR’s ongoing Partnership to Defeat Diabetes first announced in 2017.

This tremendous initiative – to be launched in November of this year – is intended to bring together two Canadian research teams with extensive diversity of expertise and a joint structure that goes beyond conventional academic collaborations. The focus of the research will be on expanding, and translating to the clinical trial stage, strategies for delivery and protection of a stem cell-based treatment for T1D.

JDRF has supported T1D-related stem cell research for more than a decade, and today critical knowledge and advances from earlier studies are being applied to develop novel T1D therapies unlike anything currently available. “Stem cell-based therapies are aimed at curing disease and not merely managing its symptoms,” says  Dr. Sarah Linklater, chief scientific officer at JDRF Canada. “The goal of stem cell-based research for T1D is to build on the success of islet transplantation and make beta cell replacement accessible to all people living with T1D. Studies have now shown that stem cells – a renewable cell source – can be used to grow beta cells with the potential to cure T1D , so this goal is now closer than ever before.”

This initiative is intended to capitalize on Canada’s recognized excellence and leadership in areas such as clinical islet transplantation, stem cell biology, diabetes research, immunology, genetic engineering, and cell encapsulation research to overcome the challenges in making a stem cell-based cure for T1D a reality. It will provide grants to two ambitious Canadian teams each aiming to bring stem cell-based approaches for T1D to the clinical trial stage within the next five years.

For more information, visit

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

Investigating the causes of beta cell dysfunction in type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) occurs when the immune system misguidedly attacks and destroys beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells normally produce insulin, a chemical messenger that helps move sugar from food sources into cells throughout the body, which use it for fuel to stay alive. Without adequate insulin, blood glucose levels rise too high and can cause serious damage to all organs.

Dr. Heather Denroche at the University of British Columbia is currently examining a hormone called islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP), produced by pancreatic beta cells and released in response to elevated glucose, in order to better understand the role it plays in the loss of beta cells leading to T1D, as well as in transplanted stem cell-derived beta cells.

Recent findings reveal that deposits of IAPP attract immune cells and cause inflammation. Dr. Denroche is investigating how this process occurs, and whether or not it influences the development of T1D and the outcome of beta cell transplants.

“Both the immune system and the pancreatic beta cells actively contribute to the underlying causes of T1D,” explains Dr. Denroche. “With support from JDRF, this research will advance our understanding of how IAPP, a beta cell-derived factor, participates in the progression of the disease, potentially leading to novel strategies to prevent or better treat diabetes in the future.”

“Heather is a brilliant young scientist who has brought new ideas and energy to this exciting project,” says Dr. Bruce Verchere, director of the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of British Columbia. “We are both very appreciative of her JDRF advanced post-doctoral fellowship support, which not only allows her to pursue this work, but is also a steppingstone towards starting her own diabetes research laboratory in a few years.”

Better characterization of IAPP as a potential therapeutic target to prevent T1D progression and maximize the success of beta cell transplantation could advance knowledge needed for improved treatment of T1D and possibly even inform a cure.

Hypoglycemia Prevention: Testing a disposable patch that facilitates insulin therapy

One of the greatest fears among many people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) is insulin therapy-associated hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Marked by symptoms such as trembling, sweating, confusion and dizziness, the condition can lead to seizures or a coma, and even death.

Dr. Xiao Yu (Shirley) Wu, a JDRF-funded investigator at the University of Toronto, is developing a glucose-responsive, microneedle patch for the delivery of therapeutic hormones to prevent hypoglycemia in T1D patients.

Applied to the skin during sleep, exercise or when performing full-attention tasks such as driving, the patch will sense when blood glucose levels are below the normal concentration and then automatically release the counter regulatory hormone, glucagon, for better glucose control.

Hypoglycemia is one of the most serious acute complications associated with insulin therapy. In their latest paper in Advanced Materials , Dr. Wu and her team show how the microneedle patch has the ability to minimize the risk of hypoglycemic episodes and death among people living with T1D, and alleviate the psychological burden of hypoglycemia anxiety, thereby improving quality of life. At the same time, it is also convenient, painless and potentially inexpensive.

“With the generous support from JDRF, our team will continue advancing the development of the glucose-responsive glucagon patch, aiming at clinical trials in the near future,” says Dr. Wu.

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