$2.5 billion will be invested in the search for type 1 diabetes cure for over next 5 years

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the world's leading charitable funder of research leading to a cure of type 1 diabetes and its complications, held the Global Diabetes Research Forum today as part of its annual meeting in Washington, DC.  Leading representatives from academic research, government, philanthropy, and industry presented their views on how to create new interdependent working relationships in order to hasten the pace of science to achieve cures and improve global health.

"These are momentous times for everyone affected by type 1 diabetes. In the next five years, about $2.5 billion will be invested in the search for a cure for type 1 diabetes and its complications around the world - double the spending levels from the recent past," said Peter Van Etten, President and CEO of JDRF.  "Unfortunately, simply spending money doesn't necessarily shorten the timeline for scientific results.  The magnitude of the projected spending makes us all in the world of research that more accountable for results, and results now."

At the forefront of finding a cure for juvenile diabetes, JDRF, in collaboration with its partners, created the Forum to steer the direction of diabetes research by reexamining the objectives, procedures, funding and pace for research to address issues that traditionally hinders the achievement of real results:  incremental improvements versus genuine breakthroughs; the gap between preclinical studies and human treatments; lack of communication and shared resources among researchers and institutions; separation among individual funding sectors; rising costs and complexities of medical research; and the reluctance to take completely new research approaches.

The new unrelenting, risk-taking approach for medical research announced by JDRF reflects the influence of the Department of Defense's Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  "Failure does not occur because we take risks - but where we fail to see that the problem justifies the risks," said Dr. Joseph Bielitzki, Program Manager for the Metabolic Engineering and Engineered Tissue Constructs Programs for DARPA.  "Type 1 diabetes falls into that category."

The Forum's highlights included a presentation from Michael Milken, Chairman of FasterCures, who stated that lack of information sharing is a major impediment to medical research.  According to Milken, "Making patient medical records public for researchers to share will quicken the finding of cures for diseases such as type 1 diabetes."

Other keynote speakers included Sylvia Mathews, Chief Operating Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Allen M. Spiegel, Director of the National Institutes of Health's National Institution of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases; and Stephen W. Potter, Vice President of Corporate Development for Genzyme. 

Mary Tyler Moore, International Chairman for JDRF, made a call to action while expressing a great sense of urgency to finding a cure for juvenile diabetes.  "Here at the JW Marriott, world leaders are gathered to confront the tyranny of diabetes.  Now some of you may find this an overstatement, but allow me, as someone who has struggled with diabetes for over 35 years, this license.  What else would you call something that rips you from sleep, disoriented and sweating, imposing an overwhelming sense of dread and fear for your life?" challenged Mary Tyler Moore.  "I am here today to declare my optimism that we can deliver a cure, sooner rather than later.  But to do so, it will take bold and unwavering action on all our parts."

Awards were presented to Mark Atkinson, Co-director of the Diabetes Research Center at the University of Florida and Dr. Paul Lacy, who 30 years ago performed the first successful islet transplant in an animal.  Dr. Lacy's important work was the precursor to the Edmonton Protocol, in which 30 years later seven patients successfully received islet transplants.

"In the more than four years since the initial trial results of the Edmonton Protocol were announced, only about 300 additional patients have undergone the procedure. To us at JDRF, that small number is no less than heartbreaking.  Why not 3,000 patients, or 10,000, or everyone with type 1 diabetes?" questioned Van Etten.  "In the traditional pace of medical research, a timeline such as this has been the norm.  However, for us at JDRF, this isn't acceptable and we are taking proactive and deliberate actions to creating an efficient and effective model for research." 

The Global Diabetes Research Forum is part of JDRF's Unite to Cure Diabetes Program, a two-year national campaign to raise awareness of the importance of diabetes research, highlight JDRF's global leadership, and raise funds for the fight to find a cure for diabetes and its complications.  The Unite Campaign also includes two other signature JDRF events, the Walk to Cure Diabetes and JDRF's Children's Congress.

JDRF was founded in 1970 by the parents of children with juvenile diabetes - a disease that strikes children suddenly, makes them insulin dependent for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications. Since inception, JDRF has provided more than $680 million to diabetes research worldwide. More than 80 percent of JDRF's expenditures directly support research and education about research. JDRF's mission is constant: to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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