The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the world’s largest charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research, announced that it is partnering with Plureon Corporation, a biotechnology company based in Winston-Salem, N.C. that focuses on developing therapeutic applications of stem cells.
Through its Industry Discovery and Development Partnership Program, JDRF is providing $500,000 over two years of research funding aimed at developing an insulin-producing beta cell therapy product for the treatment of type 1 diabetes.
“Plureon is exploring exciting alternatives to treat or cure diabetes by developing cell therapies to replace beta cells using adult stem cells as a source,” said Julia Greenstein, Therapeutic Program Director for Replacement at JDRF. “The results from this study may provide a new strategy to restore function of insulin-producing cells, creating a significant, positive clinical impact on patients with diabetes.”
“This award enables us to extend our research in the field of diabetes,” said Hal Eason, founder and CEO of Plureon. “By leveraging our existing technology and know-how across additional sources of stem cells, we hope to open new pathways towards a cure. We are grateful for JDRF’s partnership in this pursuit.”
The project plans to use Plureon’s technology platform to isolate adult stem cells from a type 1 diabetes patient and re-program them to generate fully functional pancreatic beta-cells. The objective is to return the re-programmed insulin-producing cells back into the patient in an autologous manner, i.e., without the need for immunosuppressive agents normally required for organ transplantation – in this manner, the patient’s own transplanted cells will be capable of glucose-dependent insulin secretion and the restoration of normal blood sugar levels.
Plureon is the latest company to work with JDRF through its innovative Industry Discovery and Development Partnership program. Through the program, JDRF partners with pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device businesses that seek to develop drugs, treatments, technologies, and other therapeutics leading to a cure, reversal, or prevention of type 1 diabetes and its complications. To date, JDRF has 22 IDDP partners across a range of research areas, committing approximately $25 million in research funding.
Diabetes is a chronic, debilitating disease affecting every organ system. There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. Type 1 diabetes usually strikes in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood, but lasts a lifetime. People with type 1 diabetes must take multiple injections of insulin daily or continuous infusion of insulin through a pump just to survive. (Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which a person’s body still produces insulin but is unable to use it effectively.) Taking insulin does not cure any type of diabetes nor prevent the possibility of its eventual and devastating effects: kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputation, heart attack, and stroke.
Illustration: Microsoft Clips.