Juvenile Diabetes

After his recent retirement as Client Advisor with SunTrust Bank on Sanibel, taking some well-deserved time off for travel and reflection about what he might want to do in the future, Rotarian, Jack Kuhn thought he might just want to continue and expand his role volunteering or possibly working for the JDRF-Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation headquarter in Naples. Jack has been part of the JDRF Foundation Family ever since his son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Just a little background on this, Jack’s son Alex was not diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes until he was twenty years old and away at college.

Jack Kuhn

As our guest speaker this week, Jack was representing JDRF and giving us an over-view of this non-profit organization that raises funding for research with focus on understanding Type 1 diabetes/T1D and its pathology laying the foundation for groundbreaking translational research that is being conducted globally. Jack told us that over 100 JDRF offices throughout the US and 6 affiliates abroad, have an unrelenting passion and commitment to remove the impact of type 1 diabetes from people’s lives. Although there is not yet a cure for T1D on the horizon, research and development has brought about many changes to the way this disease is being handled today improving the way people live with T1D. Approximately 1.25M individuals in the US are living with T1D-and nearly 40,000 youth adults are diagnosed with T1D in the US annually. Many of us only think that T1D is diagnosed early in life but that is not the case; many young adults are diagnosed in their 20s.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, life-threatening autoimmune disease that is currently unpreventable. It has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. The fact is that the cause of Type 1 Diabetes is unknown. People with T1D aren’t able to produce insulin, which is a hormone that helps to convert glucose into energy, keeping blood-sugar levels in check. T1D occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks insulin-producing beta cells with the pancreas and begins killing them off. Eventually the pancreas isn’t able to produce enough insulin to control the blood-sugar spikes that happen after eating. Chronic high blood sugar causes damage to major organs like the eyes, kidneys and heart, and it will eventually lead to death if not treated.

Today, people with type 1 diabetes rely on insulin therapy to control their blood sugar levels. Insulin therapy is imperfect, however, and even with advances in care, most people with T1D still experience life-threatening blood-sugar highs and lows. There are no oral insulins available. It must be taken by injection or by using an insulin pump.

JDRF is the leading global funder of T1D research. Their work has led to the creation of the first continuous glucose monitor; new treatments for diabetic eye disease, artificial pancreas systems; and the first human clinical trial of encapsulated cell-replacement therapies, which have the potential to replace insulin treatment. JDRF is investing in key therapy areas that have the greatest and most immediate potential for better treating; preventing or curing T1D…they are artificial pancreas systems, encapsulated cell-replacement therapy, beta cell restoration, glucose control therapies, complication therapies, and prevention.

Today medical research is at a pivotal moment on the path of turning Type One into Type None. Clinical trials are providing research results that show distinct promise. The JDRF Complications Program supports development of therapies and prognostic tools that help prevent, treat, or reverse diabetes-related eye and kidney diseases. Their Restoration Program is focused on creating therapies that permanently enable people with type 1diabetes to produce a sufficient supply of insulin. The JDRF Prevention Program aims to keep individuals, especially those at higher risk, from every developing T1D.

Funding is essential to the success of T1D research. JDRF supports research to accelerate the discovery of life-changing therapies and supports regulatory and health care policies for discovery, development, and delivery of new and improved therapies. Eighty-Five Percent of all money raised by JDRF goes directly to research. Check out the JDRF Naples web site for more information.