In September, JDRF wrapped up the first stage of its first-ever crowdsourcing challenge to garner ideas for developing a glucose responsive insulin (GRI) drug. The Agnes Varis GRI Grand Challenge Prize, the first stage of which was called the “Theoretical Phase,” resulted in the selection of three winning ideas, presented by five “solvers.” The winning teams each received $35,000 for their ideas, which are being further assessed by JDRF for their potential to work in a laboratory setting.
GRI is an engineered insulin that ideally would remain in a person’s body and regulate blood glucose levels for extended periods, such as a once-a-day treatment or longer (up to a week). Such a breakthrough, when achieved, would effectively end the need for frequent blood sugar checks and multiple daily insulin injections or infusion pumps.
However, the true potential of such a discovery remains unknown. The closest example is a product called SmartInsulin, which is currently being developed by Merck & Co. SmartInsulin was developed by SmartCells, Inc. with support from JDRF. That drug is currently in preclinical development. Because the path to drug approval is long and provides no guarantees in early stages, JDRF decided to pursue other avenues toward this important goal through the Grand Challenge.
In this video, Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D. discusses in greater detail what GRI is and how JDRF envisions the Grand Challenge bringing such a drug to reality. If you have any questions about GRI, or the Grand Challenge, visit www.jdrf.org.