Canada at the Forefront of Diabetes Research, Bringing Innovation from the Lab to the Bedside

JDRF’s Canadian Clinical Trial Network announces launch of expansion to western Canada

Vancouver, BC (February 13, 2014) – JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (JDRF CCTN) has announced the official launch of its expansion to western Canada through the generous support of the WB Family Foundation. Three new research projects will be funded through the $3 million donation in an effort to support clinical trials focused specifically on the “cure” therapeutic area for type 1 diabetes (T1D). JDRF CCTN brings together the country’s top physicians, scientists, researchers and innovators from leading universities, hospitals and industry to accelerate the discovery and development of therapies to improve life with T1D, and eventually eliminate the disease entirely.

Created in partnership with the Government of Canada, funding for JDRF CCTN came in 2009 from an original commitment of $20 million, with an additional $13.9 million contribution from JDRF and recently, in 2012, a $3 million donation from the WB Family Foundation. The $36.9 million investment is accelerating the testing of new technologies and treatments for Canadians and individuals around the world living with T1D and its complications.

“There are over 300,000 Canadians living with type 1 diabetes,” said Dave Prowten, President and CEO, JDRF Canada. “JDRF has created this network to facilitate a unique model to advance both Canadian and international ideas about basic and translational science. With JDRF CCTN, we are developing those ideas right here in Canada, with Canadian expertise, for the benefit of everyone touched by type 1 diabetes.”

JDRF CCTN is currently comprised of leading hospitals and universities in southern Ontario and British Columbia, including: The Hospital for Sick Children, and the University Health Network in Toronto; the University of Western Ontario and Lawson Health Research Institute in London, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa; the Child & Family Research Institute (CFRI) at BC Children’s Hospital; and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Robarts Clinical Trials at the University of Western Ontario serves as JDRF CCTN’s Clinical Operations Centre. With the expansion at the University of British Columbia (UBC), JDRF CCTN is attempting to have an even bigger impact on diabetes research in Canada.

JDRF CCTN principal investigators Rusung Tan, M.D., Ph.D., a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (CFRI and UBC), and Timothy Kieffer, Ph.D., a Professor in the Departments of Cellular & Physiological Sciences and Surgery (UBC), will join JDRF Canada President and CEO Dave Prowten and a representative of the WB Family Foundation to mark the official launch of JDRF CCTN in western Canada, and to announce the expansion of the western clinical trials to be implemented by the network.

“It’s an exciting time to be involved with JDRF CCTN as they work to broaden their research network across Canada,” said Dr. Tan. With Dr. Tan’s trial specifically, his group will be investigating if a drug, currently in use for severe cases of psoriasis, will protect beta cells such that insulin-dependence can be delayed, perhaps indefinitely. This study will address needs of children and young adults with T1D. Dr. Tan explains, “There is currently no easy intervention that can prevent the need to take insulin because the immune process that damages the insulin-producing beta cells continues unabated.”

Dr. Tan and his team will be testing this drug in individuals who are newly diagnosed with T1D in the hospital, and will be following their progress over the course of the study. 

The second JDRF CCTN pre-clinical study will examine the potential of curing diabetes by a transplant of encapsulated cells made from stem cells. “Our goal is to assess the ability of the cell encapsulation device to protect the cells within from being rejected by the immune system,” says Dr. Kieffer. “If successful, these studies may support trials in patients with diabetes.”

JDRF CCTN aims to continue the expansion of research across Canada in the coming months and will also facilitate opportunities for the commercialization of Canadian research ideas, directly improving the lives of Canadian patients with T1D and their families. 

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D. As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF is currently sponsoring $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries. For more information, please visit jdrf.ca.  

About JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (JDRF CCTN)

JDRF CCTN is a groundbreaking effort to fast-track solutions for the management, care and cure of T1D. JDRF CCTN is currently developing several high-profile clinical trials, in association with leading diabetes researchers at partner universities and medical centers in British Columbia and Ontario. The goal is to position Canada as an international hub for diabetes translational research, innovation, and commercialization of new therapeutics and enabling technologies. For more information, please visit jdrf.ca/cctn.

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For more information, please contact:

Sara Marano, JDRF Canada
647-789-2027
smarano@jdrf.ca

Lets turn type one into type none