More than 400,000 people in the United Kingdom and 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes (T1D), a disease for which there is no cure yet. Type 1 Diabetes UK Immunotherapy Consortium (T1D UK), a network of British scientists, backed by Diabetes UK and JDRF, are conducting clinical trials to find new treatments that will stop or prevent T1D. They recently announced their continued commitment to revolutionizing the treatment of T1D, by awarding £490,000 (approximately $640,000) to fund the next generation of immunotherapy research.
Since people with T1D can’t produce their own insulin, they must administer insulin through injections or an insulin pump to manage blood sugar levels. Cardiff University Professor Colin Dayan leads the T1D UK’s network of research centers and explained how insulin is so complicated. “It’s a blessing we have it because it keeps people with type 1 diabetes alive—people were dying very quickly 100 years ago. But it’s also a curse because it’s so difficult to use—and this is what people with type 1 are facing every day for the rest of their lives.”
Scientists believe immunotherapies would benefit people with T1D when they are first diagnosed and still have surviving insulin-producing cells. Immunotherapies could also be given to people at high risk of T1D, before their insulin-producing cells have been destroyed, to try and stop the condition from developing.
Before a drug can be licensed and made available for general public, it must undergo multiple clinical trials and show promise. T1D UK’s funding will enable scientists and researchers to do exactly that—focus on more clinical trials, as well as improve the way in which they are carried out. Also, thanks to the renewed funding, the Consortium will continue for a further three years and aims to make the first immunotherapy drug available for people with T1D.
So far, the consortium has increased the number of people with T1D taking part in vital clinical trials five-fold, and is paving the way toward cures, observed Simi Ahmed, Ph.D., research lead on the JDRF immunotherapies program. She added that T1D UK “is positioned to become a role model in the type 1 diabetes community, increasing the amount of people who can take part in research, such that multiple trials may be run concurrently across the globe without competing with each other.”
Learn more about what JDRF’s immunotherapy program is doing and get the latest updates by clicking here.