JDRF Rallies for Continued Support of Diabetes Research during National Diabetes Awareness Month

JDRF Rallies for Continued Support of Diabetes Research during National Diabetes Awareness Month

Media Contact:
Joana Casas, (212) 479-7560, mcasas@jdrf.org

Renewal of U.S. Government Special Diabetes Program Will Ensure Progress toward Better Treatments and a Cure for Type 1 Diabetes

NEW YORK, Nov. 5, 2010 – Thanks to significant research advances in recent years, people living with type 1 diabetes have received better treatments and therapies. Scientists have made headway in uncovering the possible cause of type 1 diabetes, and in their efforts to find ways to prevent, treat, or reverse the autoimmune disease and its complications. Despite this progress, we still have a long road ahead of us to identify a cure that will eliminate type 1 diabetes once and for all.

Diabetes of all types continues to grow at an alarming rate – in the last 30 years , the number of people with diabetes has skyrocketed to about 24 million people in the United States alone, including as many as three million Americans affected by type 1 diabetes. The cost of diabetes is staggering – one out of every five health care dollars is spent caring for someone with diagnosed diabetes, and one out of every three Medicare dollars is attributed to diabetes. The national price tag for diabetes is at an astounding $174 billion per year and that cost is estimated to almost triple in the next 25 years. Sustained scientific commitment and funding for research are needed to ensure we reach our goal of eliminating type 1 diabetes and its complications.

“November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to bring attention to priority issues for those of us trying to bring about an end to type 1 diabetes. Chief among our priorities is to ensure that federal funding levels remain sufficient to support the necessary research to drive the field toward a cure for the disease and its complications,” said Jeffrey Brewer, President and CEO of JDRF.

JDRF is encouraging the public to learn about a key source of diabetes support, the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), a federal-funded program that has contributed significantly to many advances in diabetes research. The program is currently up for renewal before Congress. And without continued funding, support for much-needed clinical research will be in jeopardy.

The Special Diabetes Program (SDP), established by Congress in 1997, currently funds $150 million annually for type 1 diabetes research, representing 35 percent of the federal government’s support for type 1 diabetes research. JDRF, also committed to funding research toward a cure for type 1 diabetes, is calling for the multi-year renewal of the program before Congress adjourns for the year. “This would ensure that the research advancements made from the program’s early years that have now translated to human clinical trials can continue uninterrupted to further our mission of treating and curing type 1 diabetes,” said Cynthia Rice, Vice President of Government Relations for JDRF. “Without the program’s renewal, total federal support for type 1 diabetes research would drop to below FY 2004 levels, and we have come too far to let that happen.”

Research Progress to Date

Important strides in diabetes research have been made with the support of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), including studies that seek to unveil the root causes of type 1 diabetes, or to test therapies that could prevent the disease altogether. Studies aimed at developing cell-based therapies for beta cell replacement, or programs that play a critical role in testing and confirming new diabetes management technologies in children are also funded through the SDP.

Research supported by the SDP and others, including JDRF, has also led to the development of new technologies – like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors to test and control blood sugar – which have set the stage for what will ultimately lead to an artificial pancreas. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes can now manage their diabetes better than ever before. These tools have helped people to live better lives today, including lessening the risk for low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can be life-threatening, and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), which can lead to long-term complications, such as blindness or kidney disease.

“In fact, thanks to better monitoring tools, people with type 1 diabetes now have a lower risk of complications than ever before,” said Richard Insel, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer for JDRF. “When complications do develop, doctors have better ways to diagnose them, slow their progression, and lessen their impact. All these research advances mean a better life and longer life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes.”

JDRF Activities

“As we all participate in a variety of activities that will raise awareness about the urgency of diabetes this November, let’s remember to keep in mind that it is through progress in research, such as those funded by JDRF and the Special Diabetes Program, that we can continue to make improvements in the lives of people living with type 1 diabetes today and in the future,” continued Mr. Brewer.

As part of JDRF’s efforts to raise awareness for type 1 diabetes and encourage the importance of research, JDRF will participate in a number of events and activities around the country throughout the month. In particular, JDRF will host an event known as “Type 1 Talk,” an online and offline social media gathering initiated by a live UStream broadcast that will be presented by JDRF staff and volunteers on World Diabetes Day, Nov. 14. Type 1 Talk will allow people with type 1 diabetes from across the U.S. to converge in their local communities and engage in type 1 diabetes-related conversation with one another.

Also, JDRF is encouraging the public to learn more about type 1 diabetes and the importance of diabetes research through various efforts that include highlighting the warning signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes, and the differences between type 1 diabetes and the more prevalent type 2 diabetes. For more information on JDRF during National Diabetes Awareness Month, please visit www.jdrf.org.

About JDRF

JDRF is the leader in research leading to a cure for type 1 diabetes in the world. It sets the global agenda for diabetes research, and is the largest charitable funder and advocate of diabetes science worldwide.

The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults suddenly, and can be fatal. Until a cure is found, people with type 1 diabetes have to test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin injections multiple times or use a pump – each day, every day of their lives. And even with that intensive care, insulin is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent devastating complications, which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation.

Since its founding in 1970 by parents of children with type 1 diabetes, JDRF has awarded more than $1.4 billion to diabetes research, including more than $100 million in 22 countries in FY2009.

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Driven by passionate, grassroots volunteers connected to children, adolescents, and adults with this disease, JDRF is now the largest charitable supporter of T1D research. The goal of JDRF research is to improve the lives of all people affected by T1D by accelerating progress on the most promising opportunities for curing, better treating, and preventing T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners who share this goal.

Since its founding in 1970, JDRF has awarded more than $1.7 billion to diabetes research. Past JDRF efforts have helped to significantly advance the care of people with this disease, and have expanded the critical scientific understanding of T1D. JDRF will not rest until T1D is fully conquered. More than 80 percent of JDRF’s expenditures directly support research and research-related education.