Did you know that Scotland has the third highest incidence of type 1 diabetes in the world?
More than 28,500 people in Scotland live with the condition and numbers are increasing at a rate of four to five per cent each year, particularly in children under five.
All rely on multiple insulin injections or pump infusions every day just to stay alive, with a child diagnosed at five facing up to 19,000 injections and 50,000 finger prick blood tests by the time they are 18.
It’s not a condition linked to lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, it is down to luck.
As for me, I was diagnosed with type 1 when I was 37 and while that makes me big enough to deal with the consequences on a day to day basis, coming to terms with the possibility of a shortened lifespan is not easy for me or my family.
Type 1 is a chronic autoimmune condition. Those with type 1 cannot produce the insulin that regulates their blood glucose levels because their immune system, for reasons not yet fully understood, attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.
What drives many of us with type 1 is the prospect for a cure. Around the world research is being funded and coordinated by the type 1 diabetes charity JDRF, and with every new project we are another step closer.
In Scotland, JDRF-funded research projects are being undertaken in Glasgow and Dundee, which look at complications and treatments. Both will have an important impact on the JDRF pathway to achieving its goals for finding the cure and improving type 1 diabetes life expectancy.
But with such a wealth of expertise in the life science and biotech sectors, I would like to see more.
Scotland has 19 universities and higher education institutions, top talent and world-leading life sciences research facilities. We are already seeing successful collaboration between industry, academia and clinicians which is recognized worldwide.
If I can inspire more of these people with the prospect of finding the cure for type 1 diabetes, I believe that Scotland is perfectly placed to drive new research and play a major role in this evolving success story.
JDRF is the world’s leading charitable supporter of type 1 diabetes research.
Scotland has a high incidence of the condition. We also have a world leading research community. Finding a cure for type 1 would be amazing. For me, this is a challenge we should be embracing.
Peter Jones is the Chairman of the JDRF Development Group in Scotland