Theresa May marked the 100 year anniversary of the discovery of insulin by meeting Scottish families affected by type 1 diabetes – a condition she lives with herself – at an Edinburgh event in aid of JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity.
The event at the city’s Prestonfield House on Saturday recognised the strength of Scottish type 1 diabetes research science and its potential to lead the way on research breakthroughs, transformational treatments and cures – to lift the physical and emotional burden of type 1 diabetes. More than 29,000 people in Scotland live with the condition.
Former Prime Minister Mrs May has been an ambassador of JDRF and its type 1 diabetes research programme since April 2020.
The event saluted the memory of Aberdeen’s John Macleod who was a vital part of the international research team who discovered insulin in 1921 – a discovery that has saved millions of lives. It won him the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
Organisers hailed Scotland’s SCI-Diabetes database, a central database of information relating to people with type 1 diabetes, as a “jewel” of UK and international research science. The data, which can support health outcomes and allow a person control of their own care, generates a wealth of information to enrich research.
The event aims to raise money to fund more research to take type 1 diabetes treatments beyond intensive daily insulin management, a significant burden for people living with the life-long condition. A child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of five faces up to 19,000 injections by the time they are 18.
Recent advances in type 1 research include the JDRF-funded immunotherapy teplizumab, which has been shown to delay the onset of type 1 diabetes in people at-risk of the condition by three years, and a new stem-cell therapy that reduced the first trial recipient’s need for insulin by 91% by replacing lost beta cells.
Through funding and forging global research collaborations, JDRF, its supporters, researchers and partners in Scotland and around the world can come together to find transformational type 1 diabetes treatments and cures. JDRF has funded various type 1 diabetes research projects across Scotland in recent years.
JDRF’s Senior Regional Fundraiser in Scotland, Elspeth Campbell said: “We’re delighted that Theresa May has given her time to help us celebrate the contribution that Scotland has made – and continues to make – to type 1 diabetes research science. As someone living with type 1 herself, Mrs May knows the importance of pushing treatments beyond daily insulin management and of finding cures. As well as marking Scottish success, tonight’s event will raise vital funds to help us towards our ultimate goal of eradicating type 1 diabetes altogether.”
JDRF’s Chief Executive in the UK, Karen Addington, said: “Together we will deliver research breakthroughs, transformational treatments and cures that will lift the physical and emotional burden of type 1 diabetes. Scotland will continue to lead the way.”
During the event, Mrs May met and took questions from children and young people living with type 1 diabetes in Scotland. She then took part in a Q&A with journalist Rona Dougall, focusing on her personal experience of living with type 1 and her hopes for future type 1 research.