JDRF Drives Next-Generation Type 1 Diabetes Research With New Partnerships

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By : dLife Editors

JDRF, a leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research, recently announced an end-of-year update, marking many advances on its path to a find a cure and fund new therapeutic developments to better treat the chronic autoimmune disease affecting 1.25 million Americans.

“No organization in the world is more committed to type 1 diabetes research than JDRF,” says Derek Rapp, CEO, and president of JDRF. “To date, our organization has committed more than $2.25 billion to T1D research, a significant majority of which is being directed toward curing the disease.”

Below are a few of the organization’s notable achievements this year:

Building to a Cure: Beta Cells, Immunotherapies & Prevention

  • JDRF-funded researchers published a study in Nature Medicine, which found that verapamil, a widely used blood pressure medication, promotes insulin production in adults with recent-onset T1D by preserving beta cell function when added to an insulin regimen. These findings mark proof of concept of a non-immunosuppressive therapeutic approach to target loss of beta cell function in T1D.
  • In partnership with The Helmsley Charitable Trust, JDRF renewed $15 million in funding for the Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) to continue transformative research into how and why T1D develops. nPOD is the world’s largest biobank of pancreatic tissue, supporting more than 300 investigators in 20 countries and processing 50,000 tissue samples for analysis. More than 170 peer-reviewed papers have been published by researchers utilizing nPOD samples.
  • Eli Lilly and Sigilon Therapeutics announced a partnership to develop encapsulated cell therapies using Sigilon’s Afibromer™ materials, a technology that was launched with JDRF funding.
  • JDRF expanded a T1D screening program based on evidence that early intervention can slow disease progression and dramatically reduce the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, also known as DKA. The ASK Program at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes at the University of Colorado is now screening children ages 2-17, becoming the largest T1D screening program in the United States.
  • The JDRF T1D Fund, JDRF’s venture philanthropy fund, increased its portfolio of investments in companies with T1D-related programs and now has invested in 12 companies. New in 2018 were investments in the following companies: Enthera to develop beta cell survival therapies, ImmunsanT to develop a peptide desensitization immunotherapy for T1D, Inversago to develop an oral drug that restores and regenerates beta cell function, and Pandion to develop safer and more powerful islet-targeted immunotherapies.

Advancing New Therapies & Reducing Complications

JDRF also marked progress on the first anniversary of its Open Protocol initiative to support the development of automated insulin delivery systems, including artificial pancreas (AP) algorithms, continuous glucose monitors (CGM) and insulin pumps.

The goal is to increase the ability for these devices to “talk” with one another, regardless of whether they have the same manufacturer.

JDRF sees progress in many facets of supplies and systems for glucose control and expects several products to be commercialized in the coming few years.

Other Notable Milestones:

Creating a Regulatory Pathway:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its clearance of the Dexcom G6, which is the first CGM to be interoperable, meaning it can be used with insulin pumps, AP algorithms, and mobile apps. JDRF and The Helmsley Charitable Trust held a community workshop about regulatory pathways for interoperable AP components.

Leveraging the Power of Data:

JDRF and The Helmsley Charitable Trust hosted 100 experts from across the world to discuss cutting-edge innovation. At the meeting, T1D clinicians, academic researchers, and technology companies like IBM and Verily discussed how to use aggregated data to advance diabetes management, build better algorithms, and bring safer, more innovative products to market.

Establishing Financial and Legal Frameworks:

JDRF announced $3 million of funding, with a match of $3 million from The Helmsley Charitable Trust, to support next-generation systems, including a collaborative grant to provide initial funding to deliver Tidepool Loop as an FDA-regulated app in the iOS App Store. JDRF further established legal frameworks for these systems, including an assessment of the product liability risk for interoperable systems to be released next year.

Lexicon and its partner, Sanofi, submitted a new drug for approval called Zynquista™ (sotagliflozin). JDRF jointly funded a phase II clinical trial to test the drug in young adults. The drug is being reviewed by the FDA, and if approved, it will be the first oral drug indicated specifically for T1D.

In partnership with the Mary Tyler Moore and Robert S. Levine Charitable Foundation, the “Restoring Vision: A JDRF Moonshot Initiative” launch brought together global experts in diabetes-related eye diseases and related disciplines, including engineers, cell biologists, and technology experts, to develop a research plan to reverse low vision in people with T1D.

For more information and the full end of year summary, please visit JDRF.


  1. JDRF Drives Next-Generation Type 1 Diabetes Research With New Partnerships & Breakthrough Science. 2018, December 20. Retrieved: https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/jdrf-drives-next-generation-type-1-diabetes-research-with-new-partnerships–breakthrough-science-300769653.html