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Our Position On Stem Cell Research

With more than 4 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and an estimated further 1 million adults who have type 2 diabetes, but don’t know it, DRWF is focused more than ever on our vision for the future, a world without diabetes.

Diabetes is considered one of the 21st century’s leading health challenges, worldwide. With around 6 million newly diagnosed each year, it is anticipated that by 2030 more than 578 million people, aged 20-79, will be affected by diabetes. The vast majority, around 90%, is related to type 2 diabetes which can often be prevented and where evidence suggests that remission may be possible for some.

Our work has never been more important, and our Research Strategy sets out our approach to funding research that improves our understanding of all types of diabetes, explores new treatments and management strategies, and ultimately seeks to find a CURE.

DRWF position on Stem Cell Research -

Whilst stem cell research is still really in its infancy in many ways, there is much evidence to suggest that it could significantly speed up a discovery of a cure for diabetes.

In the long term it is believed that stem cell research could lead to the development of many new treatments for a wide range of diseases but there is certainly still a long way to go in this research area, before treatments would be available.

DRWF recognises that there are important ethical issues that must be taken into account when considering all aspects of stem cell research. It is vitally important that appropriate safeguards and limitations are in place and the United Kingdom has a comprehensive and well established framework for stem cell research. Embryonic stem cell research is allowed subject to license from the Human Fertilisation and Embryonic Authority (HFEA).

The aim of medical research is to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life for people in ill health, many of whom may die prematurely. With this in mind, DRWF supports the continued investigation of stem cell research, within the strict and rigorous regulatory framework, in which medical researchers are required to carry out their work.

However, in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Use of Stem Cell Lines, we will only fund projects where adult stem cell lines are used by bona fide researchers for justified and valuable purposes that reflect the requirements of the UK's regulations.

Whilst DRWF supports the view of the Association of Medical Research Charities that important ethical issues must be taken into account when considering funding research that involves embryonic stem cells and only that which is regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, DRWF does not fund research using embryonic stem cells.

Only applications to fund adult stem cell research are considered and these will be subject to rigorous scrutiny in terms of the quality and relevance of the research to people with diabetes.

Meanwhile, we continue to monitor developments in stem cell research to ensure our investment in research holds the maximum potential to improve the lives of people living with diabetes.

Updated Aug 2021

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