of C teams head national diabetes research project
the three years since she was diagnosed with type I diabetes,
9--year--old Kady Helme has pricked her finger for a blood check
over 5,000 times and given herself more than 2,000 insulin shots.
After describing a typical day in her life--four blood checks,
snacks eaten on a strict schedule, waking up in the night when
her blood--sugar level drops--she added, "I will get sicker the
older I get."
kept smiling, though, because top researchers and physicians had
just assured her that they were going to do everything in their
power to find better diabetes treatments and maybe even a cure--and
they'd just received $151.5 million to do it.
was the last speaker at an October press conference held on campus.
At the conference, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDF) and
the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
announced two major grants to University of Chicago--headed research
teams studying treatments for diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.
Both projects will test "tolerogenic" approaches, therapies that
selectively disable immune cells which attack transplanted cells
or organs while allowing other immune cells to defend against
bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells.
JDF has awarded $7.5 million over five years to establish the
JDF Center for Islet Transplantation at the University of Chicago/University
of Minnesota. The NIAID has launched a seven--year, $144--million
initiative--the Collaborative Network for Clinical Research on
Immune Tolerance--that will involve nearly 40 research institutions
and 70--plus researchers and clinical specialists.
both projects is U of C pathology professor Jeffrey Bluestone,
who also chairs the Committee on Immunology and heads the Ben
May Institute for Cancer Research.
JDF Center for Islet Transplantation will tackle a major problem:
how to prevent the body from rejecting pancreatic--cell transplants.
Beta cells in pancreatic islets (cell clusters) produce insulin,
but in patients with type 1 diabetes, those beta cells have been
destroyed. Successful transplants of pancreatic islets could cure
type I diabetes, but current techniques to protect transplanted
islets from rejection suppress the entire immune system, increasing
the recipient's risk of infection and cancer.
new JDF Center moves us closer to the day when we will be free
from daily injections, constant concern about blood--sugar levels,
and the dangers of blindness and the other debilitating health
effects of type 1 diabetes," said JDF board chair John J. McDonough,
who lost a leg to diabetes complications a year ago.
other new project, the Collaborative Network, will study diabetes
as well as other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
and multiple sclerosis. The network will coordinate human clinical
testing of new therapies designed to bring about immune tolerance.
Successful and lasting induction of immune tolerance could eradicate
autoimmune disease and eliminate the need for permanent immune
suppression in transplant patients. The NIAID will supply over
$128 million for the network, with $14 million provided by the
JDF, and additional support from the National Institute of Diabetes
and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.