New Drug to Prevent Hypoglycemia Enters Clinical Trials

Update: June 15, 2023 

Zucara Therapeutics Inc., today announced additional funding from JDRF International in support of the development of ZT-01, a once-daily therapeutic designed to minimize hypoglycemic episodes in people with type 1 diabetes (T1D). JDRF will support Zucara’s planned Phase 2a study of the effect of ZT-01 On Nocturnal hypoglycemia Events in people with T1D (“ZONE”). Zucara expects to begin clinical trials in Fall 2023.  

ZT-01 has now been approved by both Health Canada and the FDA for the Phase 2 clinical trial.Once the trial sites have been confirmed, JDRF will provide information on how to participate on our clinical trials page found here: 

 Why this news is important: 

  • Having demonstrated proof-of-concept and ZT-01’s ability to significantly increase glucagon release in patients with T1D, the Phase 2 ‘ZONE’ trial will evaluate if ZT-01 can prevent potentially dangerous low blood glucose levels overnight. 
  • The multi-centre trial is slated to begin in Q3 2023, with the incidence of nocturnal hypoglycemic events compared to placebo serving as the primary endpoint.        
  • ZT-01 has the potential to become the first drug available to prevent hypoglycemia in people with T1D.

Low blood glucose, called hypoglycemia, is a real fear for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Although there are rescue treatments for it, such as injectable or nasal glucagon (Baqsimi), there are currently no preventive therapies available. Canadian company Zucara Therapeutics, however, may have an answer. It is developing a once-daily therapy, called ZT-01, that restores a person with T1D’s glucagon response so that they can counter-regulate hypoglycemia. 

April 19, 2023 – Update

Zucara Therapeutics announced that it received clearance from the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the Company’s planned Phase 2 ‘ZONE’ clinical trial of ZT-01 for the prevention of night-time hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D). 

Update: September 19, 2022

  • On September 19, 2022, Zucara Therapeutics reported that the highly positive results from its proof-of-concept Phase 1b trial of ZT-01 has secured continued funding for Phase 2 clinical studies. Please see this link for more information. This is a once-daily therapeutic drug that restores glucagon secretion to prevent hypoglycemia, and if approved would be the first drug of its kind for people with type 1 diabetes. 

What this means:

Zucara has achieved the development milestones required to secure the remaining funds available from its previously announced US$21 million Series A Financing.

Zucara plans to file an investigational new drug (“IND”) application for a Phase 2 trial by year end, with initiation of first patient dosing expected in Q1 2023.

ZT-01 has the potential to become the first therapeutic designed to prevent hypoglycemia in people with type 1 diabetes.

This is a very exciting development and has the potential to change the realities for people with T1D, particularly those who are hypoglycemic unaware. JDRF will continue to monitor trial results and will update as more become available.


Update: February 17, 2022
On February 8, 2022 Zucara Therapeutics Inc., a diabetes life sciences company announced that the peer-reviewed journal, Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, published a paper reporting positive preclinical data on its diabetes drug ZT-01, which is currently in a Phase 1b clinical trial for the treatment of insulin-induced hypoglycemia in patients with Type 1 diabetes (T1D).

“We are thrilled with the positive results of this preclinical study, whose efficacy portion employed a similar methodology to that of our ongoing Phase 1b clinical trial,” said Richard Liggins, Zucara Therapeutics’ Chief Scientific Officer. “This study demonstrated that ZT-01 significantly increased glucagon secretion in rats with T1D, and reduced the frequency and severity of hypoglycemia, suggesting ZT-01’s potential to reduce hypoglycemia exposure in humans with T1D.”

If approved, this would be the first once daily therapeutic for people with T1D to help reduce the effects of hypoglycemia, one of the most common complications of the disease.

JDRF will provide updates as the trial progresses and further results are known.


Previously, JDRF provided funding to move Zucara beyond the “valley of death”—when discovery research is translated into a therapy or technology, but lacks the funding to make it real. In April 2020, Zucara secured the backing of a large venture capital fund to move ZT-01 into clinical trials.

Hypoglycemia is an unintended consequence of insulin therapy, and happens when one takes too much insulin. It causes sweating, fatigue, irritability and, in severe cases, seizures and/or death. It is one of the most feared and acute complications of T1D.

The first clinical trials of ZT-01 began in September, 2020 in Ontario. If these early trials are successful, ZT-01 will be much closer to approval, and to providing much-needed relief to the millions of people with T1D and their families who suffer from the fear and dangers of hypoglycemia.

In November 2020, Zucara also announced new funding to broaden development of ZT-01 for hypoglycemia in people with insulin-requiring type 2 diabetes, indicating that even more people stand to benefit from the new drug.

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 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.

JDRF recognizes its volunteers for National Volunteer Week 2021 – April 18-24, 2021

April 19, 2021

JDRF was founded over 40 years by a group of devoted parents to provide a voice for the type 1 diabetes (T1D) community – and with the ultimate goal of finding a cure for T1D so that their children and all those who came after could know a world free from the disease.

So, the National Volunteer Week theme for 2021, The Value of One, The Power of Many feels very fitting, as it reflects on the awe-inspiring acts of kindness by millions of individuals AND the magic that happens when we work together towards a common purpose.

This past year was one like no other, as the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives completely. But one thing shone that through the darkness was the continued caring and compassion that we received from our volunteers.

As our fundraising events moved virtual, and we all learned new ways of staying connected from the safety of our homes, a constant was the support of our dedicated group of volunteers.

The power of people working together can bring about amazing changes and progress. And this has certainly been true at JDRF. All the major developments in T1D research have been funded or supported in some way by JDRF. And none of this would have been possible without the support of our volunteers.

Among some of the highlights of the past year:

  • We held our second research symposium, Bringing Breakthroughs to Life, with our partner Health Canada.
  • We created our Let’s Talk T1D education and connection series, which provided our community with relevant information on topics such as devices and the opportunity to share personal experiences with each other.
  • Sernova announced that patients in their ongoing clinical trial, funded in part by JDRF show persistent islet function and clinically meaningful improvement in glucose control.
  • With volunteers by our side, we continued our advocacy efforts federally to push for a renewal of research funding and provincially to demand #AccessforAll – affordable and accessible diabetes technologies for all Canadians living with T1D.
  • Ustekinumab, a potentially disease modifying drug for type 1 diabetes, is now being tested in clinical trials in Canada.
  • And most recently we’ve been advocating across the provinces to ensure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for people living with T1D.

The National Volunteer Week theme is a nod to the past, a reflection of the present, and a wink to the future. The Value of One, the Power of Many was also the theme for National Volunteer Week in 2001, The International Year of Volunteers.

It was chosen again as it beautifully captures both the individual and collective efforts that have been demonstrated over and over again during the pandemic, as well as setting the tone for the next 20 years as the value of one act and the power of many helps us thrive collectively.

And it feels appropriate too for JDRF, as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the insulin hormone and look ahead to aggressively pursuing research that bring us closer to a cure. We know that this will only be achieved with the continued strength of our volunteers.

While we acknowledge our volunteers during this week, we our thankful and grateful for al they do each and every day.

We have over 500 volunteers across Canada, who have been with us for over 5 years.

While some choose to remain anonymous, we recognize them here:
Atlantic Canada

Prince Edward Island:

Brooks Roche

Nova Scotia:

Aaliyah Cook

Ralph & Pearl D’Eon

Hodder Family

Pam Hodgson

Elizabeth Lough

Shirley Macdonald

Sean Murray

Karen Pope

Gail Sinclair

Amanda Williams

New Brunswick:

Alisha Armour

Mary Chisholm

Renee Savoy


Karen Hollahan-Squires

Terry Ryan

Janine Stanley

Wendy Traverse



Christine Blanchette

Michel Blaquière

Michel-Olivier Bruyère

Alex Garfinkle

Fanny Guimont-Desrochers

Lise Guinois

Lorne Hindle

David Kozloff

Michel Lachapelle

Maarika Paul

Sylvain Pelletier

Louis-Philippe Thibodeau

Réjean Tremblay

Justin Vineberg & family

Robert & Rhoda Vineberg


Hamilton :

Alison Begbie

David Begbie

Doris Desantis

Dave Dunseith

Katy Dunseith

Connie Ellingham

Helen Hyett

Lana Line

The Nerby Family

William Purdy

Michael Steadman


Trudy & Jeff Adams

Donna Dériger

Doogie Dick

Richard Eaton

Stephen Emery

Stasia Hadjiyannakis

Ann Harris

Sara Kearley

Annette Loebach Bater

Alicia Magliocco

Linda & Dean McNamara

Sarah Prendergast

Rosanna Toscano


Helena Gottschling

Bonnie & Terry Jackson

Emma & Chris Marineau

Shawn Rice

Rohan & Nishi Sikri

Candice & Ken Trickey


The Stimpson family


Graham Anderson

Susan Beamish

Saida Boutahar

Sheldon Finkelstein

Kristen Garland

Judy Goldring

Dana Greenberg

Marley Greenberg

John Macintyre

Vanessa Oliver

Fred Ribinoff

Lorne Shiff

Robert Smuk

Lacey Stewart

Alison Turner

Matthew Varey

Scott Williams


Mary Licata

Cathy Smith

Dave Williams

Janice Wirch


Jane Schuett

Jim Schuett

Lindsay Ware



Kerrie Abel,

Brad Alexander

Lori Amedick

The Argo Family

Amit Bindra

Gerry Bingham

Annett Bingham

Barb Chapman

Bonny Chapman

Claude Chapman

Bob Dann

Darrin Davis

Sue Dillabough

Sandy Evans

Heidi Forrester

Megan Gillespie

Nick Hajidiacos

Ryan Heckert

Rita Hildahl

Wayne Hildahl

Deanne Jones

Garth Lancaster

Tracey McLeod-Stecy

Beth Mungal

Jackie Murray

Cheryl Peltier

Ivan Poturica

Ken Preston

Tannis Richardson

Michele Scharf

Paul Scharf

Mike Scott

Tannis Scott

Noah Silvaggio

Tara Silvaggio

Nadia Klun Stadler

Leif Thorsteinson

Clint Toews

Margo Toole

Noah Weiszner

Myrna Weiszner

Jessica Williams


Simone Dixon

Jamie Olsen



Bonnie Barber

David Easton

Carla Feld

Ted O’Brien


The Rowe Family

Maria Strasser

Alberta :


Laurie Friesen

Jim Giroux

Mark Hawkins

Stephen Kennedy

Ryan Macdonald

Ron Miller

Jacqueline Molin

Marc Molin

Judy Williams-Park


Nancy Arnold

Chantel Bauer

Debbie Atkinson

Adam Gilewicz

Stephen Karlowsky

Arlene Kemble

Ken Kenitiuk

Deb & Frank Key

Greg Mailo

Warren Matthews

Craig Morrison

Nancy Tout

Monica Yeats

British Columbia:

Jim Beattie

Kris & Ashit Dattani

Mary Jane Devine

Kim Findlater

Stephanie Orr

Christina Pearce

Michelle Tice

Honouring our JDRF Volunteers at the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards

April 9, 2021

Volunteers can often be unsung heroes of an organization, but they help drive a mission forward with unparalleled dedication and perseverance, especially the volunteers at JDRF. And we couldn’t be more excited and honoured to recognize some of our incredible volunteers who always go above and beyond for the type 1 diabetes community.

The Ontario Volunteer Service Awards provide Not-for-Profit organizations the opportunity to recognize long-standing volunteers for their achievements.  JDRF was thrilled to celebrate some of our key volunteers in Ontario, who were nominated by our staff.  This dedicated and committed group were honoured in March 2021 via a virtual reception. A big congratulations and thank you to our amazing Ontario volunteers who have committed many years of service!

The 2020 Ontario Volunteer Service Award Winners are:

Youth Category – two or more years of continuous volunteer service

Lauren Penston (Waterloo, three years):  Lauren has been a JDRF Youth Ambassador since the age of 9. Since taking on this role, Lauren has proven to be a wonderful, young leader in her community.  She welcomes opportunities to speak about her type 1 diabetes (T1D) journey at the JDRF Walk, Fundraise Your Way events, and helps whenever she can as a volunteer – ready to recruit and thank our participants! Lauren also developed her own school presentation, to help her peers at school understand what life is like for a kid living with T1D. 

Anne Pettigrew (Toronto, two years):  Anne is a youth ambassador who has continually supported JDRF in any way that she can, through community engagement, advocacy and promotion of JDRF. Anne has also been a Kids for a Cure delegate, and was our Co-Chair for Kids for a Cure in 2020. Anne brings her passion for story telling and coaching to each and every meeting, creating a lasting impression on those she meets. 

Adult Category – five to 65 years of continuous volunteer service, awarded at five year intervals

Jim and Jane Schuett (Waterloo, five years):  Jim and Jane have been attending the Walk as participants and volunteers of the Walk  Committee for over 18 years.  One of Waterloo Region’s most dedicated JDRF families, the Schuett’s have contributed their time and expertise at nearly every JDRF Waterloo event held over the last several years, always stepping up to help new Fundraise Your Way events, and even volunteering for JDRF events away from home.

Janice Wirch (Windsor, five years):  Janice is involved in the Walk committee, mentor team, and  our Community Engagement events. She also helped found the “Back to School” event in Windsor. She is a leader in the community and is always willing to help at JDRF events, especially when she can connect with the local T1D  community.

Mary Licatta (Windsor, 20 years):  Mary has been involved with the JDRF Walk since 1997, when her son was diagnosed with T1D. . She has chaired the Walk, been on the committee, and has been a top-ten team ever since. Mary works closely with the Windsor community to ensure all community members living with T1D feel supported.

Deboarah Dick (Ottawa, 10 years):  Deborah has been a longtime committee and event volunteer supporting many years of events in Ottawa.  She brings her passion and dedication to each event she supports, bringing out the best of her fellow volunteers. We are lucky to have Deborah volunteer for so many years – and thrilled that she has received this great award!

JDRF is so proud of our passionate volunteers who generously donate their time, voice and skills to the type 1 diabetes community. Their contributions are invaluable in helping us move our mission forward every day. We wouldn’t be able to fund ground-breaking research and improve the lives of those living with T1D without their help.

Thriving with Diabetes

Sponsored Content

Halloween day will never be the same for Conrad Pow as that was the day in 2018 when his daughter Chloe was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Determined to find the best possible tools to take care of his daughter’s diabetes, Pow says everything changed when Chloe started using the Dexcom G6 Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. By wearing a sensor and carrying a phone with her, she would get relief from all the finger pokes* and could be alerted if her glucose levels crossed certain thresholds and needed attention. For Pow, the Dexcom Follow app† was a real game-changer, allowing him to see Chloe’s glucose levels at any time of day or night – even when he wasn’t with her.

“Being able to see Chloe’s levels remotely allowed us to give Chloe more freedom, and gave our family more peace of mind. It’s been amazing.”

Pow said it was a priority for him to ensure Chloe could participate in everything her big sister Kaitlyn did, and allow her to have a fun childhood.

“When the girls go off together on a bike ride or head to a friend’s house for a sleepover, I can still keep an eye on Chloe’s levels from home. I want to protect her, but I also just want her to be a kid.”

For the Pow family, having adventures and making memories has always been the core of their approach to life. “The Dexcom G6 has given us more confidence to live life to the fullest, while still doing what needs to be done to manage Chloe’s diabetes. I simply couldn’t be more proud to have such a strong and happy six-year-old.”

For more information about the Dexcom G6, go to or ask your healthcare provider for a free sample.

*If your glucose alerts and readings from the Dexcom G6 do not match symptoms or expectations, use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions.

†Following requires the Dexcom Follow app and an Internet connection. Followers should always confirm readings on the Dexcom G6 app before making treatment decisions.

British Columbians speak out about #AccessForAll in online community consultations

This past month, as part of JDRF’s #AccessforAllcampaign, British Columbians impacted by type 1 diabetes (T1D) came together with patient advocates, clinicians and elected officials to discuss the benefits of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and flash glucose monitoring (Flash GM) devices, and the need to cover these technologies under B.C. Pharmacare. 

Nearly a dozen Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) participated in the four-part series alongside other participants, which made for a lively and engaging discussion.  

Dozens of people of all ages and backgrounds shared their personal experiences using CGM and Flash GM devices, and the power these technologies have to be not only lifesaving, but lifechanging.  

“We have the technology that allows self-driving cars, yet we are so behind in devices that can save lives.”

 Their testimonials were emotional and impactful, and reaffirmed one more time the crucial need for provincial coverage of these devices:  

Sophie Orth:  

“I was diagnosed when I was 3 years old. Throughout my life, I had the luxury of having CGM and Flash GM devices to help me manage my diabetes. But due to unforeseen circumstances, my family struggled to afford CGM and Flash GM technology which forced me to reverse back to using the finger pricking method. Now, I have to see my doctor every week which is extremely difficult for me being in my graduation year. We don’t know what to do.”  

Alyssa Florence: 

“One night, my mom couldn’t wake me up. I was pale, freezing, had a massive headache, lost my vision, and could not move. My mom brought me to the hospital and the doctor told her that every organ in my body was getting attacked by the acid in my blood. If my mom had not brought me to the ER, I don’t think I would be here to tell you this story. All it takes is a CGM device to avoid all this. We have the technology that allows self-driving cars, yet we are so behind in devices that can save lives.” 

Lisa Macdonell:  

“CGM costs me $300 a month which adds up to $8000 a year to manage my diabetes. I am retired and struggling to afford CGM. My body doesn’t tell me when I’m low, so without CGM, I’m unable to participate in normal activities such as hiking or driving. I pay for CGM out of pocket because it’s a necessary device to keep me alive. The CGM alerts allow me to sleep through the night and feel safe.” 

Miguel Alvarez:  

“Living with T1D, no two days are the same and it’s a relentless condition that you have to monitor day and night, for the rest of your life. Reflecting on my past 51 years with this disease, CGM has been the most significant improvement to my treatment. CGM is not only a game-changer to help me manage my disease, but it helps practitioners make better-informed decisions with accurate data. I am lucky enough to get good coverage from my employer to cut costs, but how can it be that only those who can afford it live a better life? The benefits are clear and it’s time to do something about it.”   

What’s next? 

Access for All, our campaign to make CGM and Flash GM affordable and accessible for everyone living with T1D, is ramping up in British Columbia. Currently, neither CGM nor Flash GM are covered under B.C. Pharmacare. The B.C. government has been studying reimbursement for these devices and Minister of Health Adrian Dix has in the past suggested that coverage could be coming this year. We will keep you updated on the progress of this campaign.  

If you haven’t already done so, please write to your MLA and tell them Canadians need access to Flash GMs and CGMs. Sophie, Alyssa, Lisa, Miguel and thousands more Canadians living with type 1 diabetes need your help to live easier, healthier, safer lives. 

Take a few minutes and send them a message now then share this action with family and friends. 
Contact your provincial representative today.

An update on JDRF’s Advocacy Efforts: #AccessForAll

Here is an overview of our most recent efforts to demand affordable and accessible diabetes technologies for all Canadians living with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

You may remember from our last update that Yukon received #AccessForAll, thanks to the advocacy efforts of adults, parents and others touched by T1D. The Yukon government has moved to fully reimburse continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and flash glucose monitoring (Flash GM) for people of all ages.

We were also pleased that all the Saskatchewan parties agreed on more coverage. This was great news for those with T1D living in the Yukon and Saskatchewan.


Our advocacy efforts in Manitoba continue to centre around extending age coverage for insulin pumps to 18+ learn more about this issue here.

JDRF is calling for a Made-in-Manitoba plan to support Manitobans in our upcoming budget submission.

In it, we ask that the government remove the current age restrictions for insulin pumps and extend coverage to all ages. We also ask that it invests in public coverage for continuous glucose monitors (CGM) and flash glucose monitors (Flash GM) for all ages. This plan would significantly improve the quality of life and health outcomes for Manitobans with T1D, but also allow for a more equitable and innovative health care system on par with other provinces and territories.

We hope to build on the success from parent and student led advocacy efforts in both the Yukon and Saskatchewan, so that Manitoba doesn’t get left behind.

British Columbia

We hosted four online community events from Jan 26th to Feb 4th that invited members of the BC T1D community and JDRF donors to show their support for #AccessForAll. These events were held to send a clear message to the B. government to cover CGM and Flash GM under B.C. Pharmacare.

The BC government is actively considering coverage for these technologies, and these events were held to ensure that the issue remains front and centre to ensure coverage that those living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) need.

The events were held in Fraser Valley, Northern & Island, the Interior – Tues. Feb 2 and Vancouver Coastal. Healthcare professionals and members of the T1D community shared their stories about the coverage issues and why access to T1D technology is so important. Elected officials were in attendance to connect with and learn from their constituents. We hope that by sending a strong message to BC representatives, we will see a commitment to funding these devices in the next provincial budget.

Pre-Budget recommendations submitted to the Government of Ontario

We are still advocating to the Ontario government to expand device access beyond Flash GM (currently covered for those under age 25, on disability or receiving social assistance who have no private insurance coverage and those over age 65), and also include funding for CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) devices.

Included as well in our pre-budget submission was the recognition of how virtual care has expanded during COVID-19 and is likely to continue once the pandemic ends. Virtual care tied to access to Flash GM and CGM devices reduces both impact on the healthcare system and hallway medicine. This has health and economic benefits for the province.

Update from Brooke Roche, MBA, BEDS – Prime Minister’s Youth Council Member

JDRF volunteer advocate Brooks Roche has been extremely busy, reaching out to both members of the PEI and NFLD governments and federal MPs advocating for full coverage of Flash GM, CGM and insulin pumps in Atlantic Canada.

In September, the Prime Minister’s Youth Council met to discuss a wide range of topics with the PM – including the implementation of a national diabetes strategy. Brooks presented a fiscal, social, and celebratory case for comprehensive action, and in response the Prime Minister has committed to advocate in favour of implementing Diabetes 360 and to discuss the matter with Ministers Hajdu and Freeland in their coming meetings. He will also be involved in upcoming discussions with the PM and Minister Qualtrough on the Canada Disability Benefit referenced in the Speech from the Throne.

Brooks is doing amazing advocacy work and we’re very grateful to him.

Read his opinion piece published on CBC News to recognize the milestone anniversary of a 100 years since the discovery of insulin and the call to action for a national diabetes strategy here.

Watch Brooks’ full presentation to PEI Legislative Standing Committee on Health & Social Development

If you’d like to take action, send an email to your provincial representative, requesting accessible and universal CGM and Flash GM coverage today.

Our youth ambassadors took to the Hill virtually in 2020

Our Kids for a Cure Lobby Day-Home Edition was a great success. During the week of November 2nd, delegates joined JDRF for its annual Kids for a Cure Program. This year, due to COVID the event was held virtually.

Kids for a Cure is an initiative designed to raise awareness about the daily challenges faced by those living with type 1 (T1D) diabetes and the need for more Canadian research in this field. Throughout the week, our youth ambassadors share their personal stories of what it is like to live with T1D with Members of Parliament and Senators.

Click here to read some of their stories.

Federal Budget Submission

JDRF’s federal budget submission highlighted the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the insulin hormone– and emphasized how this remains the only treatment for people with diabetes and is not a cure. While technology has greatly improved the lives of people living with T1D, it is now time to more aggressively pursue research into cures.

The following three recommendations were submitted, with supporting evidence both to their demonstrated benefit to the health of Canadians living with T1D and economically.

Recommendation 1: The Government of Canada should honour next year’s centenary of the discovery of insulin through renewed research investment of $15M in the JDRF-CIHR Partnership to Diabetes to be matched by JDRF and its partners.

Recommendation 2: As recommended in the Disability Advisory Committee’s (DAC) First Annual Report, Canadians requiring life-sustaining therapy, including insulin therapy, should automatically qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). Recommendation 3: As recommended by the Standing Committee on Health in A Diabetes Strategy for Canada, the Government of Canada should invest in the implementation of a national diabetes strategy (Diabetes 360o) with specific outcomes for the different types of diabetes.

Celebrating our women researchers on International Women’s Day

March 8, 2021

March 8 marks International Women’s Day (IWD) globally. This 2021 campaign theme is #ChooseToChallenge:

‘A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.’

JDRF is pleased to rise to the challenge by celebrating the achievements of our women researchers. We are the leading charitable funder of research into cures and disease modifying therapies for type 1 diabetes (T1D). Among the many people working tirelessly to help create a world free from T1D are a number of exceptionally talented women.

Meet some of our women researchers:

Dr. Gillian Booth, a JDRF-funded scientist at the Centre for Urban Health Solutions within the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and a team of researchers are aiming to improve glucose control and patient experiences by using modern technologies to optimize the way health care is delivered to people with T1D.

Dr. Yi-Chun Chen is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. She earned her Bachelor of Science in medical laboratory science at Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, her Master of Science in cell biology at the University of Connecticut and her PhD in cellular and integrative physiology from Indiana University School of Medicine in the United States.

Dr. Jayne Danska holds the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Chair in Molecular Medicine. She is a professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and a senior scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children. Her research addresses the idea that the dramatic increase in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases over the past 50 years results, in part, from changes in our exposure to microbes. She is studying the role of the community of microbes that inhabit the human intestine (the microbiome) in altering risk for, and the progression of, T1D. The ultimate objective of her work is to identify new therapeutics to prevent the disease.

Dr. Heather Denroche (BC) – is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia who 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.

Dr. Suheda Erener is a research associate in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Her study focuses on developing biomarkers that can predict the development of T1D. She is also investigating the role of non-coding RNAs in beta cell demise during T1D pathogenesis to unravel signaling pathways to stop beta cell destruction and/or enhance beta cell survival and function.

Dr. Kirsten Ward Hartstonge is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on the role of regulatory T cells (Tregs) in human diseases such as T1D. She is investigating how Treg number and function may be used as a biomarker to predict if a patient is going to respond to a treatment or not.

Dr. Ya-Ching (Amanda) Huang, PhD, MSN, RN, a researcher focused on diabetes self-management and public health issues affecting underserved populations. She is studying the association between physical activities, sleep, and diabetes management; their psycho-social mechanisms; and programs that are culturally tailored to help enhance patients’ quality of life as well as caregiver effectiveness.

Dr. Megan Levings, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute in collaboration with Dr. Jan Dutz (BC) are investigating whether the administration of an antibody called ustekinumab (include blog link here when ready) among adults and children newly diagnosed with T1D can protect insulin-producing beta cells.

Dr. Despoina Manousaki is a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University and a researcher at the Jewish General Hospital (Lady Davis Institute) in Montreal. Her recently published study has shown that low levels of vitamin D are not associated with increased likelihood of T1D.

Dr. Kathy McCoy is a professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, a member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, and director of the International Microbiome Center at the University of Calgary. She is interested in the dynamic interplay between the gut microbiota and the innate and adaptive immune systems at mucosal and systemic sites. Her research aims to understand how exposure to intestinal microbes, particularly during early life, educates and regulates the immune system and how this can affect susceptibility to diseases, including T1D.

Dr. Adriana Migliorini, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University Health Network, working as part of Dr. Nostro’s team researching islet transplantation and universal donor stem cell therapies.

Dr. Maria Cristina Nostro (ON) Senior Scientist at the McEwen Stem Cell Institute at University Health Network and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and her team have received funding to use new transplantation strategies and apply universal donor stem cells to develop a superior islet-like product for people with T1D that will require little or no immunosuppression.

Dr. Tricia Tang is an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine.  She is also a registered clinical psychologist and behavioral scientist with over 20 years experience in developing and evaluating low-cost and sustainable models to improve long-term diabetes-related health outcomes in high-risk and medically underserved patient populations. Recently, she was awarded a JDRF Telehealth in Type 1 Diabetes Behavioral Health and Psychology grant to work on the implementation of a virtual care platform to improve mental health for people living with the disease in British Columbia’s rural and remote regions.​ Click here to watch her recent FB Live on Mental Health and T1D.

Mental health is the cornerstone of self-management for any chronic illness, especially diabetes. Although an overwhelming number of adults with diabetes report experiencing diabetes distress, less than half seek counselling. Health care providers are not formally trained about the psychosocial and behavioural aspects of diabetes, and therefore lack the skills to raise these concerns with patients. More problematic, there is a shortage of clinical psychologists with an expertise in diabetes in Canada. It is critical that we develop and implement training initiatives to meet the mental health needs of the diabetes community.” – Dr. Tricia Tang

Helping us navigate our research funding priorities, which are shaping T1D research both in Canada and globally, while communicating the latest updates to our donors, supporters and T1D community is our Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Sarah Linklater.

I am so proud to be part of this change-making organization working at the interface of global, cutting-edge research and the T1D community. Every day is rewarding, as I truly feel that we are making real and rapid progress towards improving lives and, ultimately curing T1D.”
 -Dr. Sarah Linklater

We also acknowledge the many other women working at JDRF, volunteering and fundraising. Together we #ChooseToChallenge T1D and work towards turning type 1 into type none.

Biosimilar Insulins – What you need to know

March 4, 2021

For anyone impacted by type 1 diabetes (T1D), the term ‘biosimilars’ is one that will become increasingly familiar now that the patents of some biologic insulins are expiring. This means that biosimilar versions of these insulins may be approved, and some are already on the North American market. But how do they differ from insulins already on the market? And are they right for managing your 1 diabetes (T1D)?

Read more to find out what this means for you.

What is a biologic drug?

To fully understand what a biosimilar is, we need to first explain what a biologic drug is. A biologic drug is a product that is produced from living organisms or that contains components of living organisms, so it is more complex than a chemically synthesized drug. An originator or reference biologic drug is the first version of a biologic drug approved for use by Health Canada.

Examples of biologic drugs include insulin, other hormones such as growth hormones or thyroid hormones, and antibody treatments. Biologic drugs are used to treat many different conditions including anemia (low iron), cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (like Crohn’s or colitis), psoriasis (an autoimmune skin condition) and rheumatoid arthritis.

Once the patent for a biologic drug has expired, a biosimilar version may be approved to be introduced into the market.

What are biosimilars?

A biosimilar biologic drug, more commonly referred to as a ‘biosimilar’, is a drug that may enter the market after the expiry of pre-existing drug patents.

A biosimilar is a drug that is highly similar to a biologic drug that was already authorized for sale. The biologic drug that was already authorized is called a reference biologic drug because it is the drug that the biosimilar compared against. This is similar to a generic over the counter pharmacy brand counterpart to the brand name drug.

However, a biological copy cannot be said to be identical to the reference biologic drug. Health Canada authorizes biosimilars for sale based on a thorough comparison to a reference biologic drug. There should be no clinically meaningful differences in efficacy and safety between a biosimilar and the reference biologic drug.

What are biosimilar insulins?

Biosimilar insulins (also called follow-on insulins) are designed to be highly similar to reference biologic drug product described in a patent.

Three biosimilar insulins currently on the market are:

  • Basaglar (biosimilar of Lantus [insulin glargine]) – Lilly
  • Admelog (biosimilar of Humalog [insulin lispro]) – Sanofi-Aventis
  • Truapi (biosimilar of NovoRapid [insulin aspart]) – Sanofi-Aventis

Biosimilar insulins as a treatment option

The entry of biosimilar insulins into the market presents both opportunities and risks that need to be properly weighed before a person with diabetes begins on or moves to a biosimilar insulin.

Biosimilar insulins can be a safe and effective treatment option for people with T1D. Their introduction to the market is also helping to reduce the cost of insulin in Canada and around the world, making insulin more affordable for patients and payers. Thus, biosimilar insulins will ultimately increase accessibility of insulin treatment and provide more treatment options to people living with diabetes.  

However, some of these benefits of biosimilar insulins will be negated if reference biologic insulins are no longer available or accessible alongside biosimilar insulins – ie, if people using insulin are “forced” to switch from their existing insulin to a biosimilar insulin due to changes in availability or coverage.

JDRF supports and advocates first and foremost for choice in all aspects of diabetes management. The decision to start on biosimilar insulin, or to switch from a biologic to a biosimilar insulin – must be made by the person living with diabetes in consultation with their endocrinologist or diabetes team.

More information on biosimilar insulins can be found here.