Immune Therapies Research Strategy
JDRF is actively supporting research to better understand the process leading to the misguided immune attack on the beta cells (the autoimmune attack) and potential therapeutic interventions at each stage of human type 1 diabetes. While there have been many recent advances in the use of general immunotherapy, the mixed positive and negative study results to date indicate that alternative approaches need to be explored. As such, JDRF is committed to furthering this research through a number of approaches. First, developing more specific therapies to promote tolerance to the beta cell antigens that trigger the autoimmune response without generally weakening the immune system is a critical component of a comprehensive therapeutic approach to type 1 diabetes. Ultimately, combining specific and non-specific approaches (e.g., anti-inflammatory agents, beta cell regenerative agents, glucose control, etc.) will most likely be required to effectively preserve/restore beta cell function. Second, there is a critical need to develop immune system status indicators or tools and predictive measures of the autoimmune process and an improved understanding of the disease process of human type 1 diabetes.
JDRF’s strategy in this area is focused on: 1) establishing a type 1 diabetes tissue bank – Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) for organs/tissues of interest across all disease stages and use of these tissues to better characterize the disease process of human type 1 diabetes; 2) discovery and development of biological tools by the use and evaluation of biosamples from type 1 diabetes clinical studies; 3) supporting both natural history studies (those following the progress of untreated patients with type 1 diabetes) and therapy trials in different stages of type 1 diabetes and within each searching for new disease markers; and 4) facilitating data and information integration across various studies being conducted in academia and industry.
Immune Therapies Research: Top Priority Areas for Fiscal Year 2013
- Discovery and development of beta cell antigen-specific immunotherapies.
- Discovery and development of prognostic and predictive immune and inflammatory biomarkers for monitoring disease progression and predicting and evaluating responses to therapies in humans.
- Characterization of the roles of innate and adaptive immune responses in the immunopathogenesis of T1D.
- Understanding the Immune-islet interface.