JDRF-ITN Partnership Program Focuses on Early Stage Clinical Development
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the world's leading charitable supporter of research into type 1 diabetes and its complications, today announced a new, 5-year $15 million joint funding program with the NIH-supported Immune Tolerance Network (ITN) that is aimed at accelerating the pace of clinical research towards a cure for type 1 diabetes. The JDRF-ITN Partnership in Immune Tolerance program will fund early-stage clinical trials and late stage preclinical development of potential immune tolerance-inducing treatments for type 1 diabetes. Applications for support will be accepted on an ongoing basis through the ITN website beginning today.
"We are thrilled to enter into this new partnership with the ITN, which further solidifies our relationship with such an outstanding consortium of researchers," said Dr. Richard Insel, Executive Vice President of Research for JDRF. "Immune tolerance therapies are among the most promising in the search for a cure for type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases, and the ITN is clearly a leader in this exciting area."
In particular, the new JDRF-ITN Partnership in Immune Tolerance program aims to bridge early clinical efforts by supporting pre-clinical drug development, phase 1 safety trials and small efficacy trials that will provide proof-of-principle in well controlled, safe settings. The program is targeted at both academic and industry investigators, with the goal of fostering new partnerships between the two, and has been set up to respond rapidly to investigators with new innovations.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Bluestone, Director of the ITN, "There are no application deadlines for the program and the application is streamlined for efficiency. The goal here is to move truly promising strategies forward quickly."
Immune tolerance therapies are a broad class of experimental drugs that attempt to reprogram the immune system so that it ignores the presence of certain, specific cells or tissues. Such therapies may halt the autoimmune destruction of pancreatic beta cells that cause type 1 diabetes and may permit more effective islet replacement therapies by preventing transplant rejection in a safer, more effective manner.
JDRF has rapidly become one of the leading supporters of tolerance research. In fact, the results of two JDRF-funded clinical trials have recently highlighted the excitement over this emerging class of drugs. In the studies, investigators from the United States and France showed that custom-designed antibody therapies targeting an immune system molecule known as CD3 could temporarily halt the progression of type 1 diabetes in newly diagnosed patients. Building on the success of these two trials, the ITN is performing a number of multi-center clinical trials to induce tolerance in patients with type 1 diabetes. The JDRF-ITN Partnership in Type 1 Diabetes program will support the investigation of such therapies in the early stages of their development.
"The early stages of clinical drug development are the most challenging and are therefore often difficult to fund," explained Dr. Bluestone. "With JDRF's generous support, this program will help see that the barriers to the early development of these potentially life-giving therapies are removed."