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Diabetes has got to go, and here's how

Diabetes can be done before Jan. 1, 2022. There are two campaigns working to make sure that timeline sticks. Find out what's going on and how you can help.
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Dr. James Shapiro has been working with researchers in Edmonton and internationally on a cure for diabetes. Now, a campaign is underway to raise $22 million, a modest sum, to further the work. HEADing into 2022 wants one million people to cough up $22 apiece. DRIFCAN/Photo

Doing anything special the rest of the year? Want to help stop diabetes permanently?

The Alberta Diabetes Foundation (ADF) is celebrating Diabetes Awareness Month in November by launching its Stop Diabetes campaign. A permanent cure is the goal; promising research is the path to get there.

“There is a lot of research to be excited about. When we hear researchers talk about having cured diabetes in mice and when they talk about advancing their work into human clinical trials, we can see that a cure is possible,” said Angelina Bakshi, the organization’s chair.

It has partnered with the Cosmopolitan Foundation of Canada (CFC) to double up on the impact it can make on supporting ground-breaking research in Alberta. The CFC, in conjunction with its Northern Beacon Program for recognizing financial contributions, has pledged to match up to $50,000 to support incredible beta cell regeneration research being done by Dr. Jean Buteau at the University of Alberta.

Other friends have collectively pledged to match an additional $100,000 in donations, guaranteeing a donation of at least $300,000 toward the ADF’s goal of $500,000 before Dec. 31, 2021.

ADF has been supporting leading-edge diabetes research for decades.

“Cosmopolitan Foundation Canada is keen to direct funds received from Beacon Program members and local Cosmo Clubs to innovative, out-of-the box diabetes research," explained Cheryl McKenzie, president of the Cosmopolitan Foundation of Canada. “We are excited to match public donations directed to the very promising work of Dr. Buteau.”

"We are ready to do that again today by supporting the most promising research, directing funds received from Beacon Program members and local Cosmo Clubs to innovation and removing the needle for good for the world," Bakshi said, adding, “ADF challenged traditional thinking 30 years ago when we supported islet cell transplantation. We are ready to do that again today by supporting the most promising research, directing funds received from Beacon Program members and local Cosmo Clubs to innovation and removing the needle for good for the world.”

The Alberta Diabetes Foundation rapidly and strategically funds innovative research in Alberta for the prevention, treatment, and cure of diabetes. Its focus: "stopping Diabetes for good — no more insulin, no more blood sugar regulation, no more needles." Learn more at AlbertaDiabetesFoundation.com/Research.

The other campaign

The campaign mirrors much of what HEADing to 2022 is after. Looking ahead to celebrating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, another team is working toward the same goal, and it has some other local friends on board to help with the financing so it can get there.

HEADing to 2022 has raised more than $1 million, announced committee member and St. Albert lawyer Doug Ritzen, noting that all funds go straight toward the efforts of Dr. James Shapiro.

"This is an amazing accomplishment given we are so new at fundraising and all of our fundraising has occurred during COVID," he began. "We are on target to have donated in excess of 95 per cent of what we have raised directly to Dr. Shapiro and his research team to find a cure for diabetes."

The idea is to get one million people to donate $22 each, effectively raising $22 million. This amount would enable Shapiro and his team of researchers to further their work, taking "the cure" from their labs to diabetics all over the world. That cure involves taking stem cells from the diabetics themselves, negating any risk of rejection. The process was originally developed by Professor Shinya Yamanaka in Japan.

The grassroots effort called HEADing to 2022 has partnered with the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation Canada (DRIFCan), along with the Canadian Progress Club, the St. Albert Breakfast Lions. and the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association for the cause.

“The one thing that the researchers are saying is they're getting very close. Their biggest problem is coming up with money,” Ritzen reported to The Gazette. Visit HEADingto2022.com to learn more.


Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns, and profiles on people.
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