Iacocca pledges $1 million to the type 1 diabetes cause

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Lee Iacocca the Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler from 1978 to 1992 has announced the launch of "Join Lee Now," a fundraising initiative to investigate a potential cure for type 1 diabetes. Mr Iacocca has personally pledged $1 million to the cause.

The initiative hopes to raise $11 million to fund a potential cure for type 1 diabetes. The funds raised as part of this initiative will be separate from the giving the Iacocca Foundation currently contributes to diabetes research and will go directly to support the clinical trials investigating this potential cure at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Diabetes is caused by an alteration in the metabolism of carbohydrates due to a deficiency in production of the hormone insulin by the pancreas. Insulin helps cells use sugar as a fuel and also transforms it into energy.

There are two forms of diabetes: Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, in which a person has to keep track of insulin levels with daily injections, and Type 2, which is not dependent on insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes, it often strikes children and young adults, who must rely on insulin injections or an insulin pump for survival. An estimated 1 million Americans have type 1 diabetes.

Ninety percent of diabetics suffer from Type 2 diabetes, which is also known as "silent diabetes." It usually develops in people over 40, with limited or no symptoms. However, increasing levels of obesity in the population have resulted in Type 2 diabetes appearing more frequently in adolescents and in young adults.

"Since the death of my wife in 1983 from the complications of diabetes, I have been driven to do everything I can to fund diabetes research. Last year, one of the researchers we have supported for over a decade cured type 1 diabetes in mice. I'm not going to wait for the government or the pharmaceutical industry to decide to get the human trials going. We need $11 million for these clinical trials now. I've given the first million and I'm asking the American people to get behind me and give the rest," said Lee Iacocca, Chairman of the Iacocca Foundation.

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