George discusses the vital research and resources available for diabetics with Dave Prowten, President and CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Canada, as well, a look at scientific advancements with Sarah Linklater, Chief Scientific Officer of the JDRF.
Hello Everyone, welcome to Episode 2 Life as a Diabetic - The highs and the lows. I'm George Canyon, your host. It is a pleasure to be here for Episode two, and, of course, with everybody and going through Covid right now I have my whole family home, so you might hear some dogs barking; you might hear some piano playing - our daughter might playing piano. Just never know what you're going to hear in the background. But we're all at home and we're having a actually enjoying the family time. Our best goes out to everyone, all the families, all you guys out there just stay safe, self isolate, social distancing. And I'm confident we can get through this all of us together. Now, We had a big plan for Episode two. We're gonna talk tech was kind of exciting, was going good, but, um, an opportunity came up. That just doesn't come around every day for anybody. And I actually got to interview Dave Prowten, the president and CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and I thought that opportunity I have to definitely take advantage of that. And so we're gonna change some stuff around. Episode two is going to be all about that all about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation hearing from Dave and then the bonus - Dave says, How would you also like to speak to our chief science officer? And I'm like, That would be that would be incredible. That just doesn't happen. And he said, Sure, So we're gonna get to speak to also speak to Sarah Linklater, and that's gonna be back to back. I actually got to pre-record because because of Covid, as everybody knows, you can't be in the studio together. So I was very lucky. I got to have Dave in Toronto, and we're gonna cut to Dave right now and get to hear from Dave, the president and CEO of the JDRF. And then right after that, we'll cut to Sarah in Vancouver and we'll get to hear, we'll get to hear from from her. It's a fascinating interview, and I'm really excited to have this opportunity. So here we go. This is Dave Prowten, CEO and president of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Good morning, Dave. How are you?
Well, George is great to see you and ah, we're definitely social distancing over Skype today.
We definitely are. I tell you what. Gosh, it's been crazy. Now we've been friends for quite a while and of course of I'm very honored and blessed to get to be a spokesman for the JDRF when I can, and however, I can. But I thought maybe we could talk a little bit today. Let's talk about the good stuff first, and then we'll talk about Covid. Let's talk about what the JDRF, where, where it was and where it's where it now is and where it's going, because it's very exciting. A lot of the research you guys are doing.
Yeah, George, I mean, it is really a an incredibly exciting period for people with Type one diabetes, and I think of it in a couple different places, right? The technology's come along so far, insulin pumps, continuous and flash glucose monitors, right? Like all the technology is just making life easier for people to manage. And I think what it also means is, um, the care that could be provided could be better, because, you know, you have just way more points of data. So what's great about that is that more people are getting it. Frankly, What's frustrating about it, though, is not everybody can get it right. So JDRF is working hard to improve access for people because everybody in Canada should have access to these amazing technologies that could make life safer for people. And then, you know, when you look out a few years, I'm really excited about things like stem cell work where we could get people a new source of insulin, you know, and, you know, imagine freedom from type one diabetes, right? That would just be remarkable. And the fact that it's in clinical trials and some of that's taking place in Canada because we're leaders in that space is really, really special. So let's you know that the money that's fueling us right now is needed more than ever because we're close to the finish line.
Yeah, the um, of course. And I got to hold the what are we calling is it called the encapsulation device, is that
encapsulation device. And it was, you know, it was just like maybe a 2.5 inches, three inches. And how do you know where that's at right now? Because I think that's what Dr Shapiro, um up in Edmonton, Alberta, right?
Yes, so he was, he's participating in the trial. And Ah, and And ViaCyte is the company that actually has produced that device. They've moved on to, ah, different device that has some holes in them so the blood supply can get in, and they're trying to find the balance between getting a device that will get into the body, get accepted and not kind of turn into like us, you know, a sliver and get shut off. Right? So, um, but there's great work on the stem cells. There's great work on the immunology. And right now, actually, we have a great partnership with the federal government. You were part of this, right? Because you've been in Ottawa with us and our when we've done the kids for a cure day. And this kid's are remarkable
Yeah, but ah, CIHR of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are a terrific partner. And we're investing right now, and and we're running a competition right now for the researchers on more stem cell work. So we're pretty excited.
That's fantastic. That's a great idea to have a competition because gets everyone fired up a little more than just going in and research and have a little contest.
Well, what's neat about this one is that actually, it's a team competition. So they need to be from multiple institutions and multiple backgrounds because it's a complex problem, Right? Type one Diabetes isn't just putting yourselves in and away you go. You got to tackle the immune system and make sure they survive. So this is about collaboration to move the research forward faster. So we're actually pretty excited about this approach, and they're big grants for each team will get $3 million for up to three million bucks. So
That's amazing. That's fantastic. Which, of course, then leads us to the next point on. I guess every point of contention is we have to fundraise. We have to continue to fundraise and with Covid and everything that's happening, that's, ah, that's making things challenging.
Yeah, there's no doubt, and I think you know the charitable sector's concerned for sure. But you know, what I would say is the type one diabetes community is very powerful, right? They want to. They galvanize behind challenges like type one Diabetes is a challenge and they tackle that every day. So, you know, we're looking at repurposing our walk and looking at virtual options because maybe we can bring everybody together and do a Pan-Canadian rally, right? Don't have literally coast to coast to coast participation. And we think you know it'll be different, but it could be equally powerful, right? And we want the community to feel like we're here for them and were rallying together. What we're actually doing a lot of George right now is providing people with information and reaching out to people making sure that they know, we've got resources on our website because this is, ah, confusing time, right? And I think an organization like JDRF can really help people feel they can trust us, we could get them good information and they're not alone, right, cause we're isolating right now doesn't mean you have to be alone.
No and that's the great thing, especially with the by the grace of God, we have social media and we have all these incredible internet services that that are letting us do stuff like this, but we can take it to a whole different level and and that's what everyone's everyone's doing around the world right now. So that's good. That's good news. And, hey, maybe this maybe this grows the fundraising arm even bigger. Maybe this in the future when we don't have to social distance, God willing soon, we'll still be able to have this as a part of the fundraising arm. And maybe it'll bring in more money. We can get to a cure faster.
Yeah, I mean, we're, we're gonna make it through, right? I mean, at the end of the day, JDRF is an important organization, and I think everybody wants JDRF to survive and thrive. So, um, we're gonna be here, right? And we're gonna pull our way through this and we're um - we'll need support for sure. But I think if we can be creative, other people will be creative right behind us.
And if somebody you know they're listening to the podcast or they're watching the vlog and they want to be involved, they want to help out. They want to learn more about the JDRF. What would you encourage them to do local chapter or go right to the website or what would be the way...
You know, a great starting point right now, would be to go to jrdf.ca - Right then then you can get especially right now. I'd say it because you want to get information on things like our walk. And you can also go in that we've got a Corona virus information there, so you know, you can go in and explore. And then if you want to reach out to a local chapter, uh, all the contact information is there for depending on where you live.
That's, that's fantastic. And that's gonna be so, so helpful and useful for, a lot of type one diabetic families and type two as well, that might be wondering what's happening and what they should be doing. I know as a type one diabetic, um it's right there in the back of my mind, you know, even though I'm in the best shape of my life and great health and about to turn 50 - someday you'll turn 50 and you'll know what I mean.
Oh I'm way past that George, way past...
Just teasing... But you know it is there it is in the back of your mind if and if you have ah, type one diabetic children. You're wondering, what, what's that gonna look like? What do I have to be careful of? And, you know, having more resources than not having enough is vital right now. So the jdrf.ca correct. Okay, jdrf.ca. Thanks so much. Dave. This has been a real treat for me, and I don't get to usually interview people, so I've just been loving it, and we hope to have you on in the future again. Once, once the world gets through this Covid thing, maybe for an update.
That'd be great. And thank you for everything you're doing to help the community, George. It's It makes a big difference.
My pleasure, pal. We'll talk to you soon - stay safe with your family.
Yeah, you too. But I know
CEO and president of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, something that has been near and dear to my heart that that group of incredible people... well, since I was diagnosed as a type one diabetic. It's been a long, long time - and the work they do, and also including other type one diabetics, Max Domi also doing a lot of a lot of great things for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. So, like I promised, I don't know if anybody heard the dogs barking in the background, but we're all here. We're all at home, um, in my studio's at home as well, um, we have another interview and this, uh this was I mean - Hey, an old dog learns new tricks all the time. And let's just say I'm just getting it ready here. I learned some stuff today that I had no idea, and it got me all pumped up and fired up again, and that's that's what we need to do. That's part of the reason this podcast is happening and is going to continue happening - God willing is to encourage each other, encourage type ones and type two diabetics, especially encourage children with diabetes to really engage and control their diabetes and live their dreams. And there's so many people out there doing such incredible work, and the JDRF are one of those incredible groups. So right now we have the Chief Science Officer from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Sarah Linklater and, ah, the quick interview that I got to do with with her today out in Vancouver, so we'll get her study right now. This is Sarah Linkletter, Chief Science Officer JDRF. Good morning, Sarah. How are you?
Good morning. I'm well. Thank you. How are you?
Doing great! We got to have a little chat with Mr Dave Prowten and he sends his regards. And we're all social - this is really social distancing because I believe you're in British Columbia?
Yeah and Dave, of course, down in Toronto. So thanks so much for taking time to join us here on the "Life as a Diabetic - The Highs and Lows" podcast. We're just getting it started and were elated to have you guys be a part of Episode 2, because the JDRF is a vital part to me of being a type one diabetic. It has always been and, of course, for type two's as well. But getting to talk to you is really cool because you're going to get to talk and tell us about where things have kind of been and where they're going in the world of treating diabetes.
Okay, Yeah, I'd be delighted to talk more about that. Where should we start?
Well, when my nanny was a diabetic, she had to boil her needles and pee on a strip - and there was no blood testing or anything. So I mean, things have definitely changed since then. What's ah, what's one of the the biggest advancements you've seen over your time with the JDRF?
So I am, I've only joined JDRF about a year ago as Chief Scientific Officer, and before that, I came from medical journals published where I was seeing the field from the view of a medical editor. So, um, I've seen the field from a few different perspectives and in joining JDRF I have been overwhelmed by how the organization is really directing the field of type one research and sort of defining where the cutting edge is and advancing it an accelerating it all the time. It has been a fantastic year getting to know the organization and new research that they're funding. So, um, the most exciting advances in the past year, I think, um, first of all are in the area of Type one diabetes prevention. There was a fantastic clinical trial published, uh, in the summer last year that showed that a drug called Teplizumab, which is an immunotherapy drug when given to someone that's at high risk of type one diabetes, it can prevent the onset of the disease by two years compared to people that receive a placebo. Wow - two years. Yeah, so this was the first real evidence we had that we might be able to stop type one before it starts.
And in terms of people at high risk, this was done through a network called Trial Net, which is focused on screening family members someone with Type one. And we know that there's bio markers in the blood that can tell us when someone is very likely to develop type one in the next 1 to 10 years. So that is who they focused on that particular study. And we know that if we had a way to screen many, many people that we could maybe identify those at risk and treat them - so that's very exciting,
That's very exciting. I mean, that's something I never thought would even be possible, because I mean, you know, my nanny had it. So they say every second generation, I think, is what they were saying back when I was 14 and that's how I ended up getting it. But then there was word that no, because I had a trauma and I swam in stagnant lake water, which may have had a certain bacteria, this may have caused type one diabetes eyes I was like - look, at the end of the day, I have it. But you know, to be able to screen and say you're at the highest risk and you may get it in so many years and we're gonna take all these precautions, that's fantastic.
Yeah, I mean, the big question is still what causes type one diabetes. We still don't know, and we know that there is a family history component, so there's some genetics involved. But at the same time, at least 90% of people that are diagnosed don't have a family history - comes out of nowhere, so certainly there is an environmental component, and that probably varies from person to person. It's not always the same. So JDRF is also finding a lot of research that looks into what are those environmental triggers. How do they interact with our genes to result in the type one diabetes?
And you said 90%
Around that, yeah, it depends on which country is okay, but, um, there is obviously a huge environmental component. And because the incidents of type one diabetes is going up globally by around 3% per year and in Canada, more like 5%. There's something in in our environment that is that is causing that increase, and we don't know what it is. But it's really urgent that we find out that that will just increase.
That's, uh, that's crazy. I had no idea and I'm a type one diabetic. You think I should I should know these things and that. Well, that's the great thing about the JDRF when I got to hold the encapsulation device that Dr Shapiro and the team out of Edmonton are working diligently with, you know, it blew my mind. I had, I had no idea that kind of tech was being worked on. And you're getting, of course, to see that every day and hear, lots of stuff that you're probably not allowed to share, as well.
Well, there's no doubt that that area of the field so we call that made a Cell Replacement Research is also extremely exciting right now, and in the past year, there's also been some very important advances. For one, researchers are working hard on creating beta cells, so the insulin producing cells from stem cells in a dish there is now a lot of research to say you can do that, and we just need to perfect that recipe to ensure that is working as well as a normal, healthy beta cell. And then in there are several different clinical trials going on testing either donor or these stem cell beta cells in encapsulation devices in people with some preliminary results that are very promising. So you know these advances are very happening very fast now, and I think there's a huge amount of promise. And there's also a large commercial investment. So this is not just in the academic realm anymore. There's a lot of companies working on this one, so really, that commercial investment will help to overcome the hurdles that are required to bring this to the clinic.
And that's, uh, that's really vital, because I always thought it was not, you know, not big corporations getting involved that way. That's fantastic. And
course, I talked to David about the fundraising component, and especially what with what's happening worldwide with Covid, and kind of taking the fundraising online a bit and having virtual walks and things like that. And this is why this is why it's so vital that we all come together and continue to support the JDRF. Because all of these things that are happening which of course I'm learning about today on top of what I know from the JDRF. This is very exciting stuff and I think we're a breath away from a cure. I know, I'm I'm kind of a broken record. I keep saying that, but I'm just putting the positive out there. I think we're a breath away. We just got to keep pushing forward.
Yes, certainly this is the time of crisis in the world with Covid-19 and, um, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. We need to learn much more about the effects of Covid-19 specifically in people with type one diabetes. Eventually, we hope that this pandemic will subside and quickly and but we would need to remain focused on our mission to cure and come up with better treatments for type one diabetes will remain what JDRF is setting out to do.
And would you recommend people just go to the jdrf.ca and check for Covid updates and things like that?
Yes, so we do have a page dedicated to information on Covid-19 and diabetes. There's very little published evidence, but we are relying on a panel of Canadian Endochronologists and other experts that can provide the best information that we have. We know that there is a huge need for information from people with type one and their families and their caregivers. So we're doing our best to provide that information, as it becomes available.
Thank you guys so much for everything you do and and continuing to be there for everyone during this crisis. This is a vital thing for the diabetic community, which, unfortunately is quite large. And I'm still shocked at the numbers of type ones and type two's not just at home in Canada, but around the world. You have a great day. Stay safe; blessings to your family, and we hope we'll have you on in the near future. Maybe after this Covid thing gets through, it will work out way better when the Covid thing is over.
Okay. Thank you, George.
Thanks Sarah. Take care. God bless. Bye-Bye.
That was Sarah Linklater, I'm always probably saying her name wrong, Chief Scientific Officer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. And, of course, a big thanks to her and a big thanks to Dave Prowten, President and CEO of the JDRF here at home in Canada. For all the work they do tireless work and continuing to work even from home right now where they're at. Well, this has been just so incredible for me. I've learned so much on Episode 2: "Life as a Diabetic - The Highs and Lows", and I promised myself to not create a podcast that would go anywhere over 30 minutes. Um, I know I listen to lots of podcasts. I listen to a whole bunch listen to Joe Rogan, and sometimes I don't have any more than 20 minutes to listen. And I want to make sure we get all the information we can jammed into that 20 minute block. And I'm giving myself a 10 minute grace period. But I won't take that grace period today. We're going to keep it at 20-21 minutes and thank you all so much for joining me for Episode 2 - once again a big thanks to Dave Prowten and Sarah Linklater. Unbelievable work they're doing and the information that they gave us today. This is "Life as a Diabetic - The Highs and Lows". I am George Canyon, your host. God bless you and your families, especially during this time. Please be safe, please - practice social distancing and isolation if you have to, as well and we will get through this not just as a country, but as a world community. God bless and we'll see you all and talk to you all during Episode 3 - Remember, this is also on YouTube. It's being videoed as well. Not just a podcast. I'm George Canyon - your host "Life as a Diabetic - The Highs and Lows".