The DRI Strategy
How will we cure diabetes?
By targeting the major research areas needed to restore natural insulin production.
The Diabetes Research Institute houses teams of scientists, engineers, and clinicians with the expertise required to tackle diabetes from many angles. This integration of medicine and technology, an ability to swiftly move therapies into clinical trials, and a singular focus on the cure drives the vision behind the comprehensive, three-pronged DRI strategy, which will fast-track the path to the cure. The strategy builds upon decades of cure-focused research and addresses the major challenges that stand in the way of a biological cure.
Strategy: 3 Driver Elements to Accelerate Diabetes Research
Concentrating on the driver elements of Therapy, Target and Technology will help researchers at DRI and a global network of our collaborators, propel diabetes research towards the cure.
Therapy: Accelerate the development of tolerable combination therapies, both for diabetes prevention and to enhance the survival and function of transplanted cells during islet cell replacement.
Target: Discover new diabetes-specific targets for therapeutic manipulation by gaining a better understanding of diabetes pathology and the regulation of the associated islet-antigen-specific immune responses.
Technology: Always strive to find the most effective and efficient technology platforms to drive our mission forwards towards the cure.
A Comprehensive Approach to a Cure
The DRI’s strategy is based on the premise that:
• Currently, patients undergoing islet cell transplantation are required to take harsh immunosuppressive drugs. This prevents transplantation from being a viable option for many people. We must therefore accelerate the development of tolerable combination therapies for people with diabetes, both for diabetes prevention strategies and to enhance the survival and function of transplanted cells during islet cell replacement. A lot of the research currently taking place at DRI, including several clinical trials is aimed at tackling this challenge.
• A better understanding of diabetes pathology and the regulation of the associated islet-antigen-specific immune response may lead to the discovery of new diabetes-specific targets. Ultimately, we hope that therapeutic manipulation of new targets will lead to the development of novel treatments to prevent and cure diabetes. New biomarkers will also be used as endpoints to assess the efficacy of clinical prevention and islet transplantation trials more rapidly.
• The development of diabetes involves an interplay of beta cells and the immune system. Future interventions will need to address dysfunctional aspects in both systems. A better understanding of the beta cell/immune cell interface will be crucial, and the development of new technology will help us to achieve this goal. State of the art technology will also allow us to engineer advanced devices to protect transplanted islet cells for longer. At DRI, we are developing the following in-house tools, to help our researchers get to the cure faster.
- In vitro 3D islet/immune cell interface platforms
- Improved devices and techniques to amplify, enhance survival and protect islet cells and deliver key immune inhibitory signals/cells.
- Induced pluripotent stem cell technology and genetic modification capabilities to test and prioritize key immune evasion molecules that could protect beta cells.
This strategy will build on our achievements, overcome barriers, and answer remaining questions. Accelerating the development of Therapies for diabetes, investigating novel Targets for therapeutic manipulation and using state-of-the-art Technology during the research process will fast-track our mission to find a cure for millions of people living with diabetes.