There are no cures for T1D, an autoimmune disease characterized by an immune-mediated loss of pancreatic beta cell mass and function, resulting in insulin deficiency and dependency. While exogenous insulin therapy is the only established treatment, people with T1D require constant glucose management. Only 17 percent of youth and 21 percent of adults achieve optimal glycemic outcomes, and people living with T1D face significant risk of long-term complications, mental burden of 24/7/365 disease management, financial burden due to medical care, and loss of income and productivity. According to the CDC’s 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 1.6 million Americas live with T1D in the United States, an increase of nearly 30% from 2017, with cases growing most sharply among diverse populations. New interventions to prevent, slow, or halt disease progression are urgently needed to improve outcomes for the increasing number of people diagnosed with T1D each year.
The JDRF Cures Program strategy for disease-modifying therapies is to develop treatments that prevent, halt, or reverse disease progression by rebalancing the immune system and preserving or regrowing beta cells. T1D is a complex disease, suggesting success in treatment and prevention will be based upon a variety of targets and pathways. In a recent phase 2 clinical study, efficacy in the reduction of insulin dependency was observed using golimumab, a TNFα inhibitor with FDA approval for autoimmune indications such as forms of arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Therefore, there is a clear precedent for the successful realignment of therapeutics from other autoimmune diseases for assessment in T1D. In addition, checkpoint inhibitor therapy for cancer, such as the anti-PD1 monoclonal antibody, is associated with increased diagnosis of T1D within 3 months of treatment, indicating a connection between immune interventions in other diseases and the onset of autoimmune diabetes. This highlights an opportunity to explore the onset of T1D from novel perspectives and disciplines, with the potential to identify previously unidentified targets or strategies for disease modifying therapies.
Funding Opportunity Description
JDRF, the world’s leading non-profit organization with the mission to cure type 1 diabetes (T1D), aspires to establish new disease-modifying therapy clinical trials, and to foster the development of disease modifying therapies for T1D. For this endeavor to succeed, it is vital to promote and advance a broad discovery and preclinical research pipeline that is rapidly translatable to clinical trials. Given the potential for overlap in the biological processes of different diseases, research currently underway in fields such as autoimmunity, metabolism, cancer immunology, and various others may represent untapped lines of inquiry for discovery and preclinical research in T1D. The goal of this invitation is to accelerate therapy development by increasing the number of identified candidates for clinical interrogation in T1D through the realignment of targets and mechanisms under investigation in other fields or disease indications. Projects considered for funding will represent innovative ideas, perspectives, and approaches in T1D
research, with the objective of providing a significant acceleration and expansion of discovery research and preclinical development. Studies investigating human and mouse gene and protein targets, pharmacological evaluation of existing interventions, and the assessment of mechanisms that play a role in related diseases in T1D-relevent model systems are of particular interest.
- We welcome LOIs from investigators, pre-formed teams, organizations, and companies with demonstrated expertise to carry out the proposed research.
- Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign non-profit organizations, public and private, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, laboratories, industry, units of state and local governments, and eligible agencies of the federal government. Applicants must hold an M.D., D.M.D., D.V.M., Ph.D., or equivalent and have a faculty position or equivalent at a college, university, medical school, or other research facility.
- There are no citizenship requirements for this program. To assure continued excellence and diversity among applicants and awardees, JDRF welcomes applications from all qualified individuals and encourages applications from persons with disabilities, women, and members of minority groups underrepresented in the sciences.
- Collaborative projects combining the expertise and/or resources of multiple research groups are highly encouraged, as are international collaborations and other partnerships that bring together distinct expertise and abilities. Preference will be given to proposals that combine the expertise of laboratories new to the T1D field with those already established in the study of T1D. In addition, JDRF will work to connect laboratories new to the T1D field with potential collaborators and resources as needed.