The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a leader in setting the agenda for diabetes research worldwide, said today that it will begin a diabetes research collaboration with Pfizer, Hadassah Medical Organization, and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem on drugs to replicate and regenerate insulin-producing cells in people with type 1 diabetes.
The program, under the direction of Professor Benjamin Glaser (Hadassah Medical) and Dr. Yuval Dor (Department of Developmental Biology, Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) at The Hebrew University), and in collaboration with scientists from Pfizer PharmaTherapeutics Research & Development, is jointly funded by JDRF and Pfizer.
The research team will focus on the preclinical evaluation of certain proprietary Pfizer compounds as candidates to promote beta cell replication and regeneration. Drugs that can stimulate beta cell replication and expand beta cell mass have potential as disease-modifying agents for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes.
The collaboration aims to provide a comprehensive biological characterization of the Pfizer compounds' potential beneficial effect on beta cell health and survival, building on unique beta cell regeneration models created by Dr. Dor and funded in part by JDRF.
"Drugs that can stimulate the replication of insulin-producing cells and expand beta cell mass have the potential to reverse type 1 diabetes," said Alan J. Lewis, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of JDRF. "This program may accelerate one of JDRF's key research goals: to find ways to restore the body's ability to make insulin." "With this collaboration, Pfizer, Hadassah Medical Organization, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the JDRF are creating a unique model for how clinical and biomedical scientists in industry and academia, in collaboration with non-profit organizations, can work together for the benefit of patients," said Tim Rolph, PhD., Vice President of Pfizer's Cardiovascular Metabolic and Endocrine Diseases Research. "Each group brings to the table its specific set of skills and expertise to address complex problems that each alone would take much longer to solve." "We are very excited about this program and the close collaboration with JDRF and Pfizer," said Dr. Dor. "Ben Glaser and myself have put considerable efforts in recent years into understanding the basic mechanisms by which the total number of beta cells in healthy adult organisms is regulated, and what triggers the formation of new beta cells when demand exceeds supply. With this new project we are given a chance to examine if our insights can be utilized, using clinically relevant drugs supplied by Pfizer, for boosting beta cell mass in healthy and diabetic mice."