JDRF, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, announced today that it made progressive advances this year on its path to a cure, funding 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,” said 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. The heavy weighting toward cure research continued in 2018, as it will going forward. Additionally, our efforts in advocacy and investments have stimulated funding of at least $3 billion in research related to T1D from third parties, especially government funders. As we move toward curing T1D, we are accelerating the development of therapies that can significantly help people lead fuller, safer lives today and every day.”
JDRF’s research portfolio and advocacy efforts are driving biological cures for T1D while advancing therapies that reduce the burden of managing the disease today and lower the risk of long-term complications.
“JDRF remains at the crossroads of virtually every major field of research that could transform the lives of those with type 1 diabetes, bringing us closer to prevention, and ultimately, cures for this disease,” said Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., JDRF’s chief mission officer. “My brother and I have had T1D for years and feel our community’s sense of urgency. We won’t rest until we cross the finish line.”
Over the past fiscal year, new investments have delivered on making life with T1D easier, driving innovation around the world within seven therapy areas to unlock the science behind T1D:
Building to a Cure: Beta Cells, Immune Therapies & 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. “This is one of the best examples in history of a foundation being proactive to solve a major medical problem and an illustration of leverage by providing funding that led to more funding and now the support of one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies,” said Robert Langer, Sc.D., co-founder of Sigilon Therapeutics.
- 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 immune therapy 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 immune therapies.
Advancing New Therapies & Reducing Complications
- JDRF 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. We see progress in many facets of supplies and systems for glucose control and expect several products to be commercialized in the coming few years.
- 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.
Expanding Access to Coverage & New Innovation
- JDRF had a significant presence at every major conference in the T1D space, including:
- American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions: Researchers presented 60 JDRF-funded studies, outlining new advances within beta cell replacement, glucose control, prevention, restoration and complications.
- European Association for the Study of Diabetes Annual Meeting: Researchers presented 45 JDRF-funded studies, sharing updates on closed-loop AP systems, prevention trials, new concepts in beta cell regeneration and the connection between T1D and kidney disease.
- Immunology of Diabetes Society Congress: Researchers presented 50 JDRF-funded studies, including progress from The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study, T1D TrialNet clinical trials and INNODIA global partnership.
- JDRF’s unmatched advocacy capabilities were deployed to secure an extension of the Special Diabetes Program, ensuring a $300 million federal commitment to T1D research. JDRF will push for the SDP’s continued long-term extension in the new year, and encourage Congress to fund its renewal by September 30, 2019.
- JDRF continues to be deeply involved in ongoing conversations with government, industry, and insurers to lower out-of-pocket costs for insulin. In November, JDRF directly contacted 23 of the nation’s 25 largest health insurance plans to urge them pass savings from drug rebates through to consumers at the point of sale when they purchase insulin, as two of them have committed to do. We have begun to receive responses to these letters, with an additional major plan committing to pass rebates on to consumers.
- Following a Federal District Court decision in Texas that could threaten protections for people with pre-existing conditions, JDRF launched a petition calling on Members of Congress to take action. Without these protections, people with pre-existing conditions were previously denied insurance coverage, charged higher premiums, and had benefits limited. To date, thousands of individuals have made their voice heard by signing the petition in support of protections for people with T1D and other chronic diseases.
- Ellen Leake, chair of JDRF’s International Board of Directors, was appointed to the National Clinical Care Commission to provide recommendations to federal programs to improve diabetes care. Also, this year, JDRF advocacy ensured Medicare beneficiaries can use smart devices in conjunction with CGMs, and worked to advance Medicare coverage for AP systems.
To learn more about JDRF highlights from this year, watch the 2018 Top Advances video.