Improving Diabetes Research Worldwide

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an immensely complex disease, which means it’s going to take many minds—and many approaches—to conquer it. BRI plays a key role in this fight. Here are three ways we're using our expertise to improve research worldwide.

A Global Research Network

The Immune Tolerance Network (ITN) is a global consortium of top autoimmune disease researchers, collaborating to test new therapies. The ITN currently leads 70 clinical studies and is led by BRI’s former director, Jerry Nepom, MD, PhD.

“Having the ITN here means BRI doesn’t just participate in the most important autoimmune disease studies—we help design and oversee them,” says Carla Greenbaum, MD.

The ITN’s studies encompass a range of autoimmune diseases and include a small number of T1D studies. For instance, Dr. Greenbaum and Dr. Buckner lead an ITN study investigating ways to extend insulin production in people with T1D.

“This could help patients stay healthier and suffer fewer long-term consequences,” Dr. Buckner says.

Sharing Samples Worldwide

Cate Speake, PhD, is a co-investigator for the JDRF CAV.BRI has assembled one of the world’s largest collections of blood samples and medical information from people with T1D. To create this biorepository, we spent nearly two decades gathering samples from research volunteers and cataloging their health information.

Now researchers across the globe turn to us for samples. 

“A researcher might be studying a question that only relates to, say, a person who was diagnosed within five years,” says Cate Speake, PhD. “We send them samples so they can answer targeted questions that move research forward.”

Ensuring Research Accuracy

As home to the JDRF Core for Clinical Assay Validation (CAV), BRI plays an important role in identifying T1D biomarkers and in helping outside researchers get the most accurate test results. BRI is home to the JDRF for Clinical Assay Validation, which helps researchers get accurate test results at 24 research sites in eight countries.

Biomarkers are substances in the blood that can suggest the presence of disease. The CAV is pinpointing key T1D biomarkers, such as markers that indicate which patients with T1D will keep making insulin for years and which patients won’t. This could help doctors anticipate a patient’s needs.

The CAV also helps maintain quality control for a worldwide network of research labs by asking them to perform specific tests and reviewing their results. 

“If their results aren’t quite right, we help troubleshoot their testing process and find solutions,” Dr. Speake says.


Fighting Diseases

November 7, 2018

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