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Former Wolves owner Steve Morgan donates £50m to help find type 1 diabetes cure

The former owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers has made what's thought to be the largest-ever single UK gift to help cure type 1 diabetes.

Steve Morgan has donated £50m to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes
Steve Morgan has donated £50m to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes

Steve Morgan, through the foundation that bears his name, has given £50 million to help fund diabetes research.

The Liverpool-born businessman, who owned Wolves from 2007 until 2016, has made the donation after his son's diagnosis. Hugo Morgan, son of Mr Morgan and his wife Sally, was diagnosed with the condition when he was seven years old.

The money will fund the Steve Morgan Foundation (SMF) Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge which will "cultivate collaboration" between researchers, scientific organisations and diabetes charities to "drive innovation and accelerate research breakthroughs worldwide", led by Diabetes UK and JDRF UK.

"We’re so incredibly proud to announce this landmark partnership with Diabetes UK and JDRF UK," Mr and Mrs Morgan said in a joint statement.

"With the expertise of the two leading diabetes charities in the UK, and our shared ambition to improve the lives of people with type 1 diabetes, the SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge will supercharge type 1 diabetes research, with the aim of having new treatments and ultimately a cure.

"We know from our own experience the impact that type 1 diabetes has on family life – it’s something we carry with us every day. But with research we can change that, and allow people with type 1 diabetes and their families to live without this relentless, lifelong condition."

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas were attacked and destroyed by the body which stops the organ from making insulin and sends blood sugar levels to dangerously-high levels.

Those living with the condition have to monitor blood sugar levels and work out how much insulin to take, multiple times a day.

It's thought that around 300,000 people in the UK live with the condition. The £50m donation is expected to also improve the lives of those with type 1 diabetes by reducing the day-to-day management of insulin and reduce the risk of long-term health complications.

The SMF Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge will focus on three key research areas:

Treatments to stop the immune system’s destruction of insulin-producing beta cells: Striking at the root cause of the condition – the immune system attack – to prevent new cases of type 1 diabetes altogether and protect beta cells in those already diagnosed.

Treatments to replace or rescue insulin-producing beta cells: Replacing the insulin-producing beta cells that have been destroyed by the immune system to restore the function of the pancreas.

Novel insulins, for example those that respond to changing blood sugar levels: These insulins could eliminate dangerous blood sugar highs and lows, reducing the risk of devastating complications and removing the extreme psychological burden of managing type 1 diabetes.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Morgan said the ‘dream’ was to find a cure for type 1 diabetes but pledged that the research would improve the lives of people living with the condition.

“It would be in our wildest dreams to get a cure at the end of these five years,” he told viewers. “It’s probably unlikely but what it will do is advance technology and bring the day forward when we get a cure.”

Mrs Morgan added that the research would give people living with type 1 diabetes and their families new hope.

“The hope to have some type of cure and make life better is something that we’re all so appreciative of,” she said.

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