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Case study: “Research is how we progress as a society”

Diabetes Awareness Week 2023

Research supported by the NIHR has helped accountant Daniel adjust his life after a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes left him “quite devastated”.  

Daniel began to lose weight without intending to in the summer of 2020. He then suffered from a bout of COVID-19. 

In January 2021, Daniel went to see his doctor. “My GP told me that he felt I was a type 2 diabetic but further tests in hospital showed I was actually type 1,” he explained. “I was quite concerned on how this would impact my future.” 

For Daniel, the diagnosis drove Daniel to a shift in lifestyle. He said: “I was a complete novice to diabetes and had no real understanding of the role the pancreas contributes to maintaining glucose levels, I never gave much thought of the role carbohydrates play on our glucose levels.”

“Following diagnosis and given my pancreas was no longer able to produce suitable levels of insulin to manage my glucose levels, I have made significant changes to both my diet and exercise to help improve insulin sensitivity. Whilst it should be noted that type 1 cannot be managed on diet and exercise in isolation as external insulin is required daily, I have found a low-carbohydrate lifestyle with increased exercise has assisted my management of type 1 whilst gaining new hobbies and knowledge on certain foods.” 

In diabetes, for reasons not yet fully understood, the body’s immune system begins attacking insulin-producing cells (called beta-cells) in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone crucial to life, moving the glucose energy in blood into the cells of the body. When beta-cells fail to produce insulin, glucose levels start to rise and the body can no longer function properly.  

If left untreated, the higher glucose levels can damage nerves and blood vessels, as well as the organs they supply. The condition affects over 400,000 people in the UK, and though often diagnosed in childhood, people can develop the condition at any age. 

Daniel enrolled for research online via the T1D consortium and was then approached by research nurses at Barts Health NHS Trust to see if he would like to be a part of the NIHR-supported IMPACT study. The study is an immunotherapy study, investigating the trial drug’s effect on beta-cell function in adults with recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes. It aims to develop treatments that will slow down the damage to beta-cells and improve their ability to produce insulin.

Participation in the trial involved injections of the trial drug every two-weeks, for the first three-months and a ‘booster’ injection at six-months. 

Daniel, who lives in south London, with his partner, added: “Research is how we progress as a society and after my diagnosis, I researched everything I could, so I was keen to be part of the trial when I was offered the chance.” 

He explained: “It was so important for me to do the trial because I learned so much and it provided me with the knowledge to adjust my medication to combat increased glucose levels caused by multiple factors such as diet, exercise or stress.” 

“There was also the human aspect of meeting the research team who are truly fantastic professionals who provide such valuable knowledge.”

“The research team played a huge role in providing me with confidence on how to handle my diagnosis, understanding it’s management whilst demonstrating type 1 does not result in any limitations.” 

“It is really truly worth the time and commitment, and I would recommend taking part in research to any newly diagnosed type 1 diabetic.”


  • To find out more about diabetes research happening in your area, visit the NIHR’s Be Part of Research website.