Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge calls for research proposals

By Editor
28th February 2023
Research, Type 1 diabetes

The Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge has launched two new rounds of funding totalling up to £14 million, in the race to cure type 1 diabetes. 

The project is a ground-breaking partnership between the Steve Morgan Foundation, Diabetes UK and JDRF UK, and was established following the Steve Morgan Foundation’s generous £50 million donation into type 1 diabetes research.

Over five years the Grand Challenge is funding research with the greatest potential to lead to life-changing new treatments and ultimately a cure for type 1 diabetes.

The Grand Challenge is now calling on the scientific community to develop ambitious and innovative proposals that will accelerate research across two key areas:

  • Beta cell therapies for type 1 diabetesResearch proposals should focus on replacing or regenerating insulin-producing beta cells that have been destroyed by the immune system, to restore the function of the pancreas. This will help fast-track beta cell therapies into the clinic, allowing people with type 1 diabetes to make their own insulin again. Projects costing up to £3 million will be supported for 3-5 years.
  • Root causes of type 1 diabetes – Research proposals should focus on new treatments that strike at the root cause of type 1 diabetes – the immune system attack, to prevent new cases of type 1 diabetes altogether and protect insulin-producing beta cells in those already diagnosed. Projects costing up to £2 million will be supported for up to two years.

Researchers can submit a brief research overview in April 2023. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit a full research proposal in Summer 2023.

Diabetes UK and JDRF UK will complete a rigorous review process in collaboration with research experts and people affected by type 1 diabetes, with the successful applicants expected to be announced in Autumn 2023.

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “We’re delighted to announce that the next major rounds of funding for the Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge have opened.

“These are focused on two key research areas that have great potential to transform the landscape of type 1 diabetes.”

She added: “Beta cell therapies could be game-changing for people with type 1 diabetes by giving them the ability to make their own insulin again and tackling the root cause of type 1 diabetes will help keep beta cells safe from harm.

“The Grand Challenge is a unique opportunity to accelerate type 1 diabetes research, and we are calling on the brightest minds from across the diabetes community and other disciplines, to work collaboratively and develop innovative ideas that could take us closer to transformative new treatments and curing the condition.”

Rachel Connor, Director of Research Partnerships at JDRF, said: “We hope this new funding, available for the first time through the Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge, will enable ambitious scientists to apply their knowledge and skills to reach a world without type 1 diabetes.

“These two funding calls will drive understanding of the immune attack at the heart of type 1 diabetes and pave the way to delivering beta cell therapies that allow people with type 1 diabetes to make their own insulin again.”

She evaluated: “Together these research fields will ultimately deliver the cures for type 1 diabetes we so desperately need.”

Professor Matthias Hebrok, Vice Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel on beta cell therapies, said: “Beta cell therapies have the potential to be life-changing for people with type 1 diabetes – helping them to produce their own insulin again – and prospects for the future are very exciting.

“The Grand Challenge is supporting scientists to innovate techniques that radically improve how beta cells are grown in the lab and help them to survive and thrive after transplantation into patients.”

He concluded: “With this funding call, researchers in the UK have the chance to focus on bringing this cutting-edge research into the clinic at pace.”  

Professor Chantal Mathieu, Vice Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel on root causes of type 1 diabetes, said: “I am super excited that we will have the opportunity to address the root causes of type 1 diabetes. Only by better understanding the condition, in particular how the immune system and the beta cells dance their lethal dance, will we ever be able to prevent and cure this condition.”

To find out more and to apply for funding, visit type1diabetesgrandchallenge.org.uk.

For more information on the Beta Cell Therapies funding call, sign up to the Grand Challenge’s webinar on Wednesday, March 15.

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