Charity JDRF and UK Prime Minister David Cameron are supporting a push for ground-breaking type 1 diabetes stem-cell research partnerships between the UK and Israel.

Mr Cameron announced plans for BIRAX (the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership), a £10 million initiative between the Israeli government and the British Council,  during  a recent visit to Israel. BIRAX has already funded several medical research projects in British and Israeli universities, with the stipulation being that one resediabetic-testerarch partner should reside and work in the UK and one in Israel. Now type 1 diabetes charity JDRF – along with the British Heart Foundation, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Parkinson’s UK – is supporting a new call for BIRAX funding applications from leading research scientists in the field of regenerative medicine. JDRF will exclusively support proposals from scientists focusing on type 1 diabetes stem cell research.

Israel is a world leader in stem cell technology and other areas of regenerative medicine which offer hope to better treat, prevent and cure type 1 diabetes as well as other conditions. JDRF, which has a presence in Israel and funds high quality research in the country, has been working with people with type 1 diabetes to call on the UK Government to increase funding for high quality research in the UK. Chief Executive in the UK, Karen Addington, said: “We are very pleased that the Prime Minister has given strong vocal support to the global effort to cure type 1 diabetes.

The fall in government funding for type 1 research in recent years is of grave concern and we welcome this Government action to address the decline. “We look forward to working with British government research funding bodies on this and other initiatives to maintain the UK’s position as a global leader in type 1 diabetes research.” According to NHS figures, 2.9 million people in the UK are affected by diabetes; 850,000 people are also thought to have undiagnosed diabetes. Type 1 diabetes affects 400,000 people in the UK. Of these, more than 29,000 are children. Type 2 diabetes is far more common. About 90% of adults with diabetes have type 2, and about 10% have type 1.