Global Alliance of Scientists Assumes Critical Role in Advancing Research
The Diabetes Research Institute Federation, one of the most far-reaching global research alliances ever assembled, is assuming an increasingly critical role in the effort to find a cure for diabetes.
When the Federation was formed in 2006, its founder, DRI Scientific Director Dr. Camillo Ricordi, envisioned it as a means to coordinate and synergize worldwide efforts to find a cure for diabetes. By using technology to link scientists to one another, Dr. Ricordi believed the best minds in the world could share expertise and novel approaches and as if they were in the same location.
Today, the Federation - now more than 20 collaborators strong - plays an even more important role in the effort to cure diabetes. Through its extensive network of scientists , the DRI is moving forward with pilot clinical trials that, according to Dr. Ricordi, would otherwise be stalled.
"The current political and regulatory environment in the United States imposes such a hindrance in terms of cost and time, it's nearly impossible for academic scientists to bring new ideas to patients," says Dr. Ricordi. "It's almost as if you've got to prove a therapy works before you can conduct a clinical trial, which leads to analysis paralysis. We're not giving up trying to improve things here, but in the meantime we don't want to delay the search for a cure or the possible development of new strategies waiting for the system to get fixed."
As a result, DRI researchers are now turning to Federation partners to keep projects moving forward. Clinical trials are currently underway in Italy, Argentina and China on a range of initiatives from the development of stem cells from body fat, to the natural re-growth of insulin-producing cells. Preliminary results from several of the Federation trials are encouraging. (See related articles for detail.)
Although these Federation partner countries have not developed the same complex regulatory structure as the United States, Dr. Ricordi says he's confident the research is being conducted with the highest levels of safety and scientific integrity. "The DRI Federation agreement with Argentina, for example, was signed by that country's Minister of Health. We try to make sure we have the backing of the government and most importantly, we require Federation partners to follow the protocol designed by our researchers here in Miami, which adheres to FDA guidelines."
Our approach to worldwide collaboration is being recognized internationally. In November, the Italian Ministry of Health selected our method as a model for international scientific collaboration. Specifically, it recognized our use of technology - digital- and Internet-based communications - which allows scientists from across the world to work together seamlessly. We believe our use of "telescience," coupled with a philosophy of sharing and collaboration will lead us to a cure for diabetes in the quickest, most efficient way possible.
Learn more about DRI Federation advancements by viewing an interview with Dr. Ricordi on our web site.