Diabetes Reaching Epidemic Numbers Worldwide
PHILADELPHIA, May 13 /PRNewswire/ — By 2020, new cases of Type 1 diabetes in children younger than five are expected to double if current trends continue, according to a study published in The Lancet. Diabetes is an epidemic, with numbers of those suffering from diabetes and its complications increasing worldwide. The International Diabetes Foundation estimates there are 246 million adults worldwide suffering from diabetes today; by 2025, the figure is expected to reach 380 million.
According to a study in Diabetes Care, the associated healthcare cost of treating diabetes patients in the U.S. is expected to double in the next 25 years, making the need for more efficient ways to treat diabetes essential.
What are organizations doing today? Forty years after founding the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Lee Ducat continues the fight for a cure as JDRF is currently involved in research that will make an impact on these rising numbers of diabetes patients and the associated healthcare costs.
“It has been my mission in life to find a cure for diabetes since founding JDRF 40 years ago,” said Lee Ducat, founder and first president of JDRF. “The work JDRF is doing today is essential in combating the increasing numbers of diabetes sufferers worldwide, and keeps us on our path to stop this devastating disease.”
The JDRF-funded artificial pancreas program, now in clinical trials, was recently found to successfully control blood sugar levels, helping to prevent some of the more serious complications associated with diabetes. Research shows that good blood-sugar control is key in reducing the risk of devastating long-term complications of the disease, such as blindness and kidney disease — but the fear of low blood-sugar emergencies often prevents people from achieving tight control and remains a constant concern for those who manage their diabetes well. The development of an artificial pancreas system is an essential step towards an ultimate cure for Type 1 diabetes – a “bridge to a cure.”
Another important field of research JDRF is funding is complications therapies. Diabetes patients suffer many severe complications, including macular edema, which can cause impairment, blurriness or blindness. Early-stage clinical trials showed a new topical drug was safe and may offer researchers a new approach to prevent and treat diabetic macular edema.
Beta Cell Therapies are another major focus of JDRF, as they aim to restore the body’s ability to make insulin – an integral step in the search for a cure. JDRF funded $39 million in 2009 for Beta Cell Therapies, combining two overlapping therapeutic areas: regeneration (triggering the body to re-grow insulin-producing beta cells) and replacement (replacing the beta cells lost to type 1 diabetics). A recent development in this field is the discovery of why insulin-producing beta cells lose their ability to regenerate with age, and the identification of proteins that may control this process.
The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. Type 1 diabetes is a disease which strikes children and adults suddenly and requires multiple injections of insulin daily or a continuous infusion of insulin through a pump. Insulin, however, is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent its eventual and 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 $101 million in FY2009. For more information about JDRF, please visit www.jdrf.org.
SOURCE Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation