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Earlier this month we revealed that our fundraising efforts at the annual BIA Gala Dinner raised more than £30,000 for our charity of the year, JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity. The money raised will go towards enabling future UK research into the disease. Here, Dr Clare McVicker, Director of Research Advocacy at JDRF, details some of the pioneering research currently being funded by the charity.

The BIA Gala Dinner was a fantastic event. The venue was spectacular and what an opportunity to network and meet lots of you. I was lucky enough to be there representing JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity – BIA’s charity partner for 2016.

Thank you so much for supporting us through this event – together you raised over £30,000! These funds will go towards supporting JDRF’s research programme. Our portfolio covers research to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes and its complications, but we don’t stop there. We’re making this life-changing research a reality for the people who need it. That’s why we ensure our impact is felt at every stage of the research pipeline, from funding world-class research, to lobbying for regulatory approval and reimbursement by health systems.

We are currently supporting over 450 projects in 18 countries worldwide, and since our founding in 1970, we have given over £1 billion to research. In the UK alone, we currently have £23 million committed to projects right across the country. The money you raised through the gala dinner will help us support this pioneering work.

Let me tell you about some of the flagship projects we’re working on.

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Ultimately our aim is to find the cure for type 1 diabetes. One way to do this is to replace the damaged insulin producing beta cells with cells grown outside the body, and protect them from the immune attack with a physical barrier.

JDRF funded researchers have been hitting headlines recently by developing new cell sources for transplantation. For example Professor Doug Melton at Harvard, and Professor Daniel Anderson at MIT worked together to place a new cell line of glucose-responsive insulin-producing cells in an innovative alginate hydrogel. They recently announced that these protected cells could deliver long-term glycaemic control in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. We’ve also invested significantly in a partnership with Californian biotech company Viacyte to develop an innovative combination product involving a pancreatic islet cell source and macro-encapsulation device, which is now in phase 1 clinical trials.

Technology is already a vital tool in managing type 1 diabetes. JDRF supports a consortium of academic institutions and companies, all working to develop “Artificial Pancreas” systems to closely mimic the glucose regulating function of a healthy pancreas using existing insulin pump and glucose sensing devices. JDRF’s decade long investment in this area has created a whole range of opportunities for this technology to be developed into commercial products that can help families affected by type 1. We are proud to be partnering with many companies looking to bring this transformative technology to market.

There are so many other things to talk about from our pioneering work on glucose responsive insulins, a completely novel concept in insulin delivery, to innovative approaches to immunotherapy which will combat the autoimmune attack at the heart of type 1, but I’m out of space! The £30,000 that you raised helps enables us to pursue these opportunities, and many more besides. Thank you again for joining us in the pursuit of a world without type 1 diabetes.

And remember, if you are working in type 1 diabetes – or would like to do so – please get in touch so we can talk some more!