JDRF is continually striving to improve the lives of people with type 1 diabetes, with the ultimate goal of delivering a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications.
For those who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, JDRF is funding research towards curing the disease by replacing or renewing insulin-producing cells, and also stopping the body from attacking these cells.
The Basic Challenges of Curing Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself and destroys beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells normally produce insulin, a hormone that helps the body turn sugar from food sources into energy for cells throughout the body. But when the immune attack destroys the beta cells, insulin is no longer produced and the sugar stays in the blood where it can cause serious damage to body organs. Because of this, people with type 1 diabetes have to regularly inject insulin in order to stay alive.
To cure someone with type 1 diabetes, two aspects of the disease need to be corrected.
- We need to stop the mistaken immune system attack on the insulin-producing beta cells, as well as protecting new beta cells from this ongoing attack (encapsulation).
- We need to restore the body’s ability to produce its own insulin, either by making new beta cells from other remaining healthy cells in the pancreas (regeneration) or by making them in a lab or obtaining them from other animals and putting them into the body (replacement).
We have made good advances in identifying new ways to regenerate beta cells, and encapsulating beta cells in a barrier that protects them from further immune attack. Our cure research priorities in FY14 focus on:
- Generating new beta cells from alternative cell sources that can be shielded from the immune system
- Blocking the autoimmune response
- Obtaining new markers to detect the disease at early stages
Read more about recent research on our blog.