Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and JDRF join forces to accelerate breakthroughs in stem cell-based research

September 18, 2019 

Stem cell-based research has the potential to play a key role in developing a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D). JDRF Canada is delighted to partner with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes to announce a new funding opportunity that will see $6M awarded to investigators driving stem cell-based therapies for T1D. This funding opportunity is part of JDRF and CIHR’s ongoing Partnership to Defeat Diabetes first announced in 2017.

This tremendous initiative – to be launched in November of this year – is intended to bring together two Canadian research teams with extensive diversity of expertise and a joint structure that goes beyond conventional academic collaborations. The focus of the research will be on expanding, and translating to the clinical trial stage, strategies for delivery and protection of a stem cell-based treatment for T1D.

JDRF has supported T1D-related stem cell research for more than a decade, and today critical knowledge and advances from earlier studies are being applied to develop novel T1D therapies unlike anything currently available. “Stem cell-based therapies are aimed at curing disease and not merely managing its symptoms,” says  Dr. Sarah Linklater, chief scientific officer at JDRF Canada. “The goal of stem cell-based research for T1D is to build on the success of islet transplantation and make beta cell replacement accessible to all people living with T1D. Studies have now shown that stem cells – a renewable cell source – can be used to grow beta cells with the potential to cure T1D , so this goal is now closer than ever before.”

This initiative is intended to capitalize on Canada’s recognized excellence and leadership in areas such as clinical islet transplantation, stem cell biology, diabetes research, immunology, genetic engineering, and cell encapsulation research to overcome the challenges in making a stem cell-based cure for T1D a reality. It will provide grants to two ambitious Canadian teams each aiming to bring stem cell-based approaches for T1D to the clinical trial stage within the next five years.

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