DRC & Research News

This page shares the latest news in T1D research and DRC’s community.

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DRC’s Take: Vertex to Acquire Chief T1D Stem Cell Competitor in All-Cash Deal

Vertex, whose VX-880 stem cell therapy for type 1 diabetes has cleared clinical proof of concept, is acquiring ViaCyte, a private biotech that has also reached clinical trials with its own stem cell therapy. In the $320 million all-cash deal, Vertex will acquire ViaCyte’s human stem cell lines, manufacturing facilities, and other relevant intellectual property.

While both companies are pursuing stem cell-based approaches to treating type 1 diabetes, their methods differ. The Vertex therapy involves injecting synthetic islet cells into patients. By comparison, the ViaCyte therapy uses gene-edited, immune-evasive stem cells encapsulated in implantable devices.

Both companies have reported data from clinical trials.

Data released by Vertex in October 2021 showed that the first patient who received the treatment had a lower average HbA1c (8.6% to 7.2%) and a significantly reduced reliance on insulin injections. Results from a second patient have also been reported and data from additional trial participants are expected later this year or early next year. In June 2021, ViaCyte revealed that a single patient had also experienced a drop in HbA1c (7.4% to 6.6%) but still required insulin injections.

“VX-880 has successfully demonstrated clinical proof of concept in T1D, and the acquisition of ViaCyte will accelerate our goal of transforming, if not curing T1D by expanding our capabilities and bringing additional tools,” Vertex CEO Reshma Kewalramani said in a statement.

Click HERE to view the full article.

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DRC in the Community: President and Chair, C.C. King’s Presentation on Insights into Medical Research

On Monday, May 23rd, DRC’s President and Chair, C.C. King, Ph.D., spoke at Del Mar Foundation’s speaker series, DMFTalks. Over 30 members of the community came to listen to C.C. talk about the importance of medical research. His talk addressed the importance of medical research. He began by sharing the process of approving medication through the FDA and how in-depth that procedure can take. This transitioned into the significance of model systems in three categories; Cancer, the self, and Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). In researching human disease, model organisms allow for a better understanding of the disease process without the added risk of harming an actual human. By the end of the presentation, he illustrated how Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is a vital organization that funds early-career scientists who have bold and out-of-the-box ideas without the years of experience that other researchers have, therefore often don’t receive the funding necessary to make headway with their research. DRC is an organization that proudly acts as the seed funding for many of these projects, allowing them to gain momentum and credibility to help them receive larger grants to bolster their research. Many of these projects use model systems to help validate their hypotheses and have often received follow-on funding from the results they have garnered and have made headway in T1D research.

Click HERE to watch C.C.’s presentation!

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CONNECTING FOR A CURE: June 2022 Newsletter

DRC has distributed over $400,000 to research projects like Dr. Dwyer’s and Dr. Zhu’s in Request for Application (RFA) 2 2021 alone. We received an unprecedented number of Letters of Interest (LOIs) in our last RFA and are funding even more innovative projects than ever. View our “Support a Project” page to see what other research projects we are currently committed to funding by clicking here. Take a look at our latest newsletter, where we feature some quotes from our newest grant recipients, show DRC in the community, and highlight our newest volunteers.

Click this link to view our June newsletter that we mailed out previously this month about what we’ve been up to and the impact we are making together. It takes a community to connect for a cure!

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Diabetes Research Connection Awards $400,000 to Eight Promising T1D Studies

After rigorous peer review by DRC’s Scientific Review Committee, eight early-career researchers were awarded $50,000, totaling $400,000 in seed funding for their work to find the cause, treatment, and cure for T1D. 

Click HERE to read the Press Release

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Meet a DRC Volunteer: Kaya Keutler

Kaya was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 13. That was also the point she knew she wanted to become a scientist and work in the research field of diabetes. Fast forward 15 years, Kaya is working on getting her doctoral degree at the Oregon Health & Science University. However, Kaya has realized that she wants to spend less time doing science and more time communicating current scientific knowledge to relevant audiences and the public. Her work for the DRC brings her one step closer to that goal. 

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 13. One of my closest cousins had lived with diabetes for about 10 years back then, so it wasn’t an unknown disease to me. Still, it felt like a bad diagnosis when an indifferent doctor delivered it to me in front of his note-taking students at a university clinic. Today I recognize it as a life-changing moment and am grateful for it, as it has made me the person I am. It also has significantly impacted my career decisions. I knew I wanted to become a scientist and work on a cure for diabetes back then. Although actively working in the field of diabetes research today, I now know it’s not that simple. There is so much we still need to learn about the disease and its treatment, and that includes both basic science as well as coming up with smart solutions for the everyday life of diabetic patients. “Let’s see what the science says” is a phrase I often use both at work and while engaging in managing my diabetes. I’ve found that what I know as a scientist does influence my treatment decisions quite a bit. I’ve reached out to volunteer for the DRC as I want to give others the power to make science-based treatment decisions and to better understand their disease, the research around it, and their options.

Kaya is now helping this organization by translating complex scientific language from DRC-funded researchers so that the community can understand the project better.

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National Tell a Story Day: A Co-Founder Shares Her Experience

Amy Adam’s son was diagnosed with T1D when he was five years old. She served on the Board of Directors and various committees for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Chicago chapter for 10 years and was a contributing writer to Insulin Free Times. This is her second term on the DRC Board, and she has served as the Lay Person Review Committee Chair since DRC’s inception.

It’s hard to believe that 30 years, hundreds of thousands of blood tests and shots, innumerable doctors’ visits and procedures, and countless renewed vows to find that elusive combination of food, activity, and insulin have passed since my own child was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Time has propelled us forward like tumbleweeds in a dust storm, yet the rigorous demands and challenges of diabetes have clung stubbornly to him every step of the way. One of the most significant personal challenges I have encountered along this path is having to stand by and watch my child’s indomitable spirit rise and fall as this disease continues to roll along with his organs, tissues, and psyche firmly in its grasp.

You can’t outgrow Type 1 Diabetes, and it is progressive. Most Type 1 diabetics develop at least one complication, and close to 50% of Type 1 diabetics will develop disabling or even life-threatening complications over their life despite their best efforts to control the disease. Perhaps due to multiple autoimmune diseases, my child struggles more than many. 

Fortunately, early on our path with this disease, we met the most extraordinary doctor who medically guided us through some of his darkest hours and gave us the only trustworthy source of hope we have ever felt through his research for a cure for this insidious disease. Years later, when Dr. Hayek introduced me to an equally impressive man named David Winkler and asked me to join them in their endeavor to create a diabetes research organization with a different paradigm, I was all ears.

Our founding vision for The DRC (Diabetes Research Connection) was to empower the community of young, innovative scientists, people affected by diabetes, and their supporters to propel unique and promising Type 1 Diabetes research ideas that weren’t receiving adequate attention by other organizations. Each selected project would have to be endorsed by a group of world-renowned diabetes experts who had volunteered their time to evaluate the merit of these projects to qualify for funding. Then the projects would be written in lay-friendly terms and posted on our website, where potential supporters could choose to support the projects that “spoke” to them based on their own experiences and knowledge of the disease. The scientists would provide regular updates on the progress of their project, good, bad, or inconclusive. Outcomes would be published on our website, adding to the body of diabetes knowledge in a united effort to eliminate diabetes.

I support the Diabetes Research Connection because despite our best efforts to control what we were told was a manageable disease, the only source of control we have ever felt is where we put our money towards curing it. Join us and influence the future of diabetes research; by selecting the research that is meaningful to you and your experience, you may help influence the work that leads to a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

Amy’s initial vision for co-founding DRC has come to fruition. In this organization’s 10th year, they have funded 48 projects, invested $2.4 M in innovative T1D research, and 12+  researchers received approximately $12M in follow on funding.

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DRC was featured in the San Diego Union Tribune

The DRC was featured in the San Diego Union Tribune about how it is successfully providing the seed funding or the “spark” for truly novel T1D research being conducted by talented early-career scientists and has led to much-larger investments from the government or larger charities. “From zebra fish to bacteria, Diabetes Research Connection celebrates a decade funding novel ideas” – The San Diego Union-Tribune (subscription required)

 

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2021 Annual Report

DRC’s 2021 Annual Report

Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to announce that our first-ever annual report is completed and ready for you to enjoy! Please click HERE to view the 2021 Annual Report highlighting all of the progress this organization has made throughout the last year. 

Join us in celebrating the impact DRC-funded research has made on the prevention, management, and cure for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)! 

DRC is committed to seeking out, peer-reviewing, and providing seed funding to the most promising T1D research being conducted by innovative early-career scientists across the country – providing hope to those living with the disease. It is only through our community that we can stay unwaveringly loyal to our mission. 

Thank you for being a part of the DRC family.

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DRC Announces 2022 Scientific Review Committee

74 type 1 diabetes (T1D) experts from renowned universities and research institutions across U.S. make up this year’s committee to vet innovative T1D research for funding by DRC

SAN DIEGO – February 28, 2022 – Diabetes Research Connection (DRC), a 501(c)(3) that funds research projects conducted by early-career scientists aimed at prevention, better care, treatment of related complications, and a cure for T1D, announces its Scientific Review Committee (SRC) for 2022.

The DRC SRC is a collaboration of T1D experts from renowned universities and research institutions from across the country. The committee members volunteer their expertise and time to thoroughly vet T1D research funding applications DRC receives based on their scientific merit. See the full list of DRC SRC members here.

“I’m honored to be a DRC SRC member. The warmth of the DRC community is unique. It brings scientists, patients, families, doctors, and supporters together. It also gives courage to scientists taking unconventional approaches toward solutions for T1D,” says Dr. Yo Suzuki of J. Craig Venter Institute. “I am forever thankful for the support DRC gave me when I was developing a nascent research idea. I hope to contribute my biological engineering perspectives, which may be non-standard in T1D research, to helping guide future research directions.”

DRC Board Member and previous Scientific Director Alberto Hayek, M.D. says, “These talented scientists and diabetes experts are at the center of our mission. Through their focused and rigorous vetting of projects submitted to DRC for financial support, we are able to provide seed funding to those most likely to find the cause, better treatments, and ultimately, a cure for T1D.”

In 2021 alone, DRC provided seed funding for 16 new T1D research projects, bringing the total support of early-career scientists to almost $2M. Follow on funding, a critical measure of the viability of projects funded by DRC, has topped $8.4M in additional funds for T1D research.

DRC is supported by donations from individuals, corporate sponsors, and private and public foundations. Contact Casey Davis cdavis@diabetesresearchconnection.org to discover how you can support DRC’s mission to eliminate T1D.

To donate online today click here.

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Diabetes Research Connection Celebrates Achievements Amid Year-End Giving Campaign to Fund Type 1 Diabetes Research

Supported by corporate sponsorships, county grants, foundation awards, and a donation of $100,000 in matching funds, DRC pushes to fund more innovative research to find the cause, treatment, and cure for T1D

SAN DIEGO – December 16, 2021 – Diabetes Research Connection (DRC), a 501(c)(3) that funds research projects conducted by early-career researchers aimed at prevention, cure, and better care for those with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), announces significant achievements in 2021 amid its year-end giving campaign. This year, DRC has been supported by corporate sponsorships, county grants, foundation awards, and a $100,000 dollar-for-dollar matching gift from an anonymous donor.

In 2021 alone, DRC will provide seed funding for 16 new T1D research projects, bringing the total to 48 innovative studies by early-career scientists awarded since its founding in 2012. DRC expects to support close to $2M in research by year-end, with six early-career scientists receiving DRC funding going on to secure $8.4M in additional funds for their T1D research.

“DRC is committed to providing seed funding for early-career scientists to demonstrate the viability of their peer-reviewed, innovative T1D research ideas. Data driven outcomes show proof of concept to enable our scientists to pursue follow-on funding, often yielding over $1 million,” shared DRC Co-Founder, David Winkler.

 Corporate partners and financial underwriters are instrumental to DRC’s mission and include:

 

Leading Sponsors

 

Sustaining Supporters

 

Event Sponsors

 

DRC Senior Director of Development Casey Davis said, “I can’t express enough the importance of our sponsors, and corporate and public underwriters to our mission to eradicate T1D through research. That’s what we mean when we say, ‘It takes a community to connect for a cure’.”

Through their help and that of family foundations and other donors, DRC expects to raise a record $750,000 in 2021, and anticipates it will increase that figure to $1 million in 2022.

“DRC is funding important research to find ways to prevent, better treat, and cure T1D. Donors and partners can also choose specific research projects they want to support. This enables you to see your dollars at work,” said Stephen Korniczky, DRC Board Member and Partner, Sheppard Mullin. “DRC not only supports a noble mission, they have been a wonderful partner as well.  I invite other sponsors and donors to join us in supporting DRC in 2022.”

DRC has additional sponsorships available for 2022 at a variety of levels. In honor of its 10-year anniversary it will be re-launching its annual Dance for Diabetes, and event sponsorships, in Fall 2022. Contact Casey Davis cdavis@diabetesresearchconnection.org.

To donate to DRC and double your impact with a tax-deductible donation click here by December 31, 2021.

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