JDRF Canada and Diabetes Canada are excited to announce how their combined funding efforts are helping to move diabetes research forward faster through support of two innovative projects focused on cutting-edge research on beta cells and islet replacement therapy.
These two projects, which are supported through the JDRF-CIHR Partnership to Defeat Diabetes, are being funded by CIHR, Diabetes Canada and JDRF Canada. The projects are five years in duration and involve a total diabetes research investment of $4 million.
Project 1: Designing stem cell-derived islets for diabetes therapy
Breakthroughs have been made in understanding the process by which islet cells develop naturally in the body. As a result, it is now possible to replicate many steps of this process in the laboratory with cultured stem cells, resulting in insulin-producing cells. Such cells are already being tested in clinical trials, with promising results, but much work remains to be done before islet replacement therapy is readily available in the clinic. In this project, a multidisciplinary team led by Dr. Timothy Kieffer, Professor at the University of British Columbia, aims to significantly improve upon the manufacturing of islet cells to achieve more robust insulin delivery, with a focus on mass-producing stem cell-derived islet cells.
Project 2: A deep phenotyping network for understanding human islet variation in health and diabetes
In this project, a research team led by Dr. Patrick MacDonald, Professor at the University of Alberta, is exploring how human islets function differently based on genetic and environmental factors, and how this variability impacts diabetes risk. The more we understand how various factors affect diabetes risk and islet dysfunction, the more opportunities will open to develop therapies for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
It’s never been a more exciting time in diabetes research, and the pace will only be accelerated with this collaboration of Canada’s leading diabetes organizations. We are confident this is an investment that will result in increased progress that will bring therapies from the lab to the diabetes community faster.
“JDRF is committed to a collaborative research funding approach, which we know helps accelerate the most promising diabetes research. We partner with academia, foundations, industry, government, and other non-profits like Diabetes Canada to collectively achieve our goal of improving the daily realities of people living with diabetes while working towards cures,” says Dr. Sarah Linklater, Chief Scientific Officer for JDRF Canada.
“We are thrilled to partner with Diabetes Canada and CIHR on these projects led by Dr. Kieffer and Dr. MacDonald, which have the potential to help us better understand the mechanisms of type 1 diabetes, and advance opportunities to treat the condition with stem cell-derived islets.”
“Collaboration is essential to ensuring we harness the extraordinary potential of research and innovation to help improve the quality of life for people living with diabetes. That is why Diabetes Canada has committed to investing $1M into these projects over the next five years,” says Laura Syron, President and CEO of Diabetes Canada. “Canada is known for its world-class diabetes research, and we are proud to join JDRF Canada and excited for the promise and potential of Drs. Kieffer and MacDonald’s work.”
“We are very excited by the potential for stem cell derived islets to provide a source of regulated insulin in patients living with diabetes and are extremely grateful for this funding support by JDRF, CIHR and Diabetes Canada to enable our efforts to accelerate the development of this approach.”
– Dr. Timothy Kieffer
“Our project will provide a resource for diabetes research groups across Canada and internationally that will provide detailed information on the genetic, environmental, and nutritional factors that impact how well our bodies can make insulin,” said Dr. MacDonald. “Support of this work by Diabetes Canada, along with JDRF Canada and CIHR, will go a long way towards improving our understanding of why pancreas cells of some people make so much insulin, while others so little.”
– Dr. Patrick MacDonald
About JDRF Canada
JDRF Canada is the leading charitable organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research in Canada. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. Since our founding in 1974, JDRF has invested more than $80 million CDN in research funding. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, governments, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout Canada and five international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our shared vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit jdrf.ca.
About Diabetes Canada
A world free of the effects of diabetes is our vision. That’s why we’re working together to improve the quality of life of people living with diabetes. We’re sharing knowledge and creating connections for individuals and the health-care professionals who care for them; advocating through public policy; and funding research to improve treatments and find a cure to end diabetes.