THE Steve Morgan Foundation has announced a massive £50m donation to transform the lives of people living with type 1 diabetes and lead the global race to a cure.
The donation to Diabetes UK and JDRF UK is the largest-ever single gift in the UK for diabetes research.
The announcement coincides with the centenary anniversary of the first use of insulin to treat type 1 diabetes.
Over five years, the money will fund the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge, which will cultivate collaboration between world-leading researchers, scientific organisations, and diabetes charities to drive innovation and accelerate research breakthroughs worldwide.
The unprecedented investment will see the UK’s two leading diabetes charities join forces to drive forward type 1 diabetes research and pave the way for the development of new treatments and a cure.
The Steve Morgan Foundation founder Steve Morgan, and his wife and SMF trustee Sally, are driven by their personal connection with the condition as their son Hugo was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of seven.
Mr Morgan said the “dream” was to find a cure for type 1 diabetes but pledged that the research would improve the lives of people living with the condition.
“It would be in our wildest dreams to get a cure at the end of these five years,” he said. “It’s probably unlikely but what it will do is advance technology and bring the day forward when we get a cure.”
Mrs Morgan said: “The hope to have some type of cure and make life better is something that we’re all so appreciative of.
“We know from our own experience the impact that type 1 diabetes has on family life – it’s something we carry with us every day. But with research we can change that, and allow people with type 1 diabetes and their families to live without this relentless, lifelong condition.
“We want this ground-breaking partnership to inspire and motivate other funders to join in the shared ambition of the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge, paving the way for a better future for those living with type 1 diabetes and their families.”
Chris Askew, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said: “We’re delighted to launch this prestigious partnership with the Steve Morgan Foundation and JDRF UK.
“This unparalleled investment will change the course of type 1 diabetes research forever, galvanising the diabetes research community and accelerating us towards a cure that will change millions of lives not only in the UK but worldwide.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Steve and Sally Morgan for their £50m investment. This is a call to arms for the scientific community, and we look forward to working with JDRF UK to unite the brightest minds to fuel new breakthroughs, together.
“Type 1 diabetes is relentless, but so are we, and this investment catapults us towards a world where type 1 diabetes finally relents, and diabetes can do no harm.”
Karen Addington, chief executive at JDRF UK, said: “This ground-breaking partnership, the UK’s largest ever single philanthropic gift for type 1 diabetes research, will catalyse medical research in a way never done before. In this golden age of type 1 diabetes research, advances in immunotherapy and stem cell research have put us within touching distance of functional cures.
“JDRF was founded on the values and practice of collaboration, both in the UK and internationally, and together with the Steve Morgan Foundation and Diabetes UK, we will drive research further, leading from the UK and drawing on JDRF’s global network of research excellence.
“I always think about the critically ill, eleven-year-old boy, Leonard Thompson whose life was saved 100 years ago, the first person ever to receive a dose of insulin.
“The Nobel Prize winning discovery of insulin was one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. Together, through the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge we will match the ambition of those scientists a century ago in our drive and expertise to cure type 1 diabetes.”
Former Prime Minister Theresa May, JDRF UK Ambassador, said: “`The announcement is historic. The partnership between JDRF, the Steve Morgan Foundation and Diabetes UK will embed the UK’s position as a global leader in type 1 medical research and international research excellence. I look forward to seeing the
- SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge propel progress in a new era of type 1 diabetes research breakthroughs.”
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
- As a result, the pancreas can no longer make insulin and blood sugar levels become dangerously high. People with the condition need to monitor their blood sugar levels and calculate the exact amount of insulin to take, several times a day.
- The condition can lead to devastating complications such as sight loss, nerve damage and foot problems that can result in amputation. Only around 30% of people with type 1 diabetes are able to keep blood sugar levels within the range that will reduce their risk of long-term complications.
- Living with type 1 diabetes is a relentless balancing act, requiring round-the-clock self-management, and for the last 100 years, insulin has been – and remains – the only treatment.
The SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge will focus on three key research areas:
Treatments to stop the immune system’s destruction of insulin-producing beta cells: Striking at the root cause of the condition – the immune system attack – to prevent new cases of type 1 diabetes altogether and protect beta cells in those already diagnosed.
Treatments to replace or rescue insulin-producing beta cells: Replacing the insulin-producing beta cells that have been destroyed by the immune system to restore the function of the pancreas.
Novel insulins, for example those that respond to changing blood sugar levels: These insulins could eliminate dangerous blood sugar highs and lows, reducing the risk of devastating complications and removing the extreme psychological burden of managing type 1 diabetes.
Through this pioneering partnership with Diabetes UK and JDRF UK, Steve and Sally Morgan are committed to creating a step-change in type 1 diabetes research, improving the lives of up to 400,000 people in the UK, their families and carers, and the lives of those around the world living with or caring for someone with type 1 diabetes.
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