CHARITY fundraisers were fascinated to discover how their money is helping to develop cutting-edge research into diabetes.

A group of Diabetes UK charity supporters were given a special tour of a diabetes research laboratory at the University of Manchester.

The group, many who live with diabetes themselves, met with top scientist Dr Rachel Jennings and saw her groundbreaking research, funded by Diabetes UK, in action.

Dr Jennings’ work is just one of more than 130 research projects the charity is currently supporting.

She is studying how genetic changes disrupt the development of the pancreas – the organ which controls blood sugar levels – in the womb.

These insights will give fresh understanding of the genetic roots of type 2 diabetes and its origins at the very earliest stages of life.

In the future, this knowledge could open doors to new ways of preventing and treating type 2 diabetes – a condition that affects almost one million people in the north of England.

Among those on the tour were fundraisers Jan Cameron and Andy Wilson from Northwich.

Jan said: “It was fantastic to be able to see how the funds we helped to raise are being used.

“The work in the labs was very enlightening and we certainly learnt a lot about the extent of the valuable research that is being undertaken to support those living with diabetes.”

   People with type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce doesn’t work properly.  Around 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2. They might get type 2 diabetes because family history, age and ethnic background puts them at increased risk.

People with type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin. About eight per cent of people with diabetes have type 1.

No one knows exactly what causes it, but a family history of type 1 increases the risk of developing it.

During the tour, supporters became fully immersed in the lab environment, seeing the full range of exciting research their support makes possible and even putting some of the experimental techniques to the test themselves. Dr Jennings said: “People were able to experience preparing tissue slides for experiments to looking down a microscope at developing insulin-making cells, to seeing experiments focused on transplanting these cells.

“Visitors also learned about exciting diabetes technology being developed in Manchester.”

“It was a pleasure to meet some of Diabetes UK’s fantastic volunteers and fundraisers – without them we couldn’t do what we do.”

Clare Howarth, head of the north region said: “So much wonderful research funded by Diabetes UK is going on across the north of England.

“It was kind of Dr Jennings to share her team’s work with our supporters and volunteers.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for them to see the important strides we are making towards a world where diabetes can do no harm, and how their support is making a difference.”

Diabetes UK is the UK’s leading charitable funder of diabetes research. They have been investing in life-changing research for more than 85 years.

The charity currently invests around £40 million into research, to improve diabetes treatments and care, and make discoveries that bring us closer to a cure.