Type 1 Diabetes Researchers Get $3mn Funding

University of Alberta researchers are key members of a Type 1 Diabetes therapy development team that wins $3 million in funding.

29 November 2020

University of Alberta researchers are key members of a Type 1 Diabetes therapy development team that won $3 million in funding, announced on November 28. 

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and JDRF Canada foundation are pumping the money over five years into a national team that is developing stem cell-based therapies, whose co-investigators are University of Alberta’s surgery scientists Drs. Greg Korbutt and Andrew Pepper.

Dr. Pepper says, "We are thrilled to work with our esteemed collaborators in Toronto, to advance our understanding and translation of stem cell based therapies for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. We wish to extend our gratitude to the CIHR-JDRF and it's donors for supporting this project as part of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin."

Stem cells show great promise as a source of insulin-producing cells that could be transplanted to provide a new source of insulin, to replace dysfunctional, damaged or lost pancreatic beta cells. 

Dr. Pepper says, “The goal is to develop hypoimmunogenic islet-like cells derived from stem cells that will become 'universal donor' cells. We will then apply these cells to our clinically relevant and novel extrahepatic transplant platform.”

The researchers will test these cells in vivo and produce them under Good Manufacturing Practice condition using the Alberta Cell Therapy Manufacturing facility (ACTM).

We are hopeful that the outcome of these studies will lead to the development of islet-like cells from human hypoimmunogenic pluripotent stem cells and will create opportunities to develop novel therapies for the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes, Dr. Pepper says.

The University of Alberta developed the Edmonton Protocol pancreatic islet transplantation therapy for Type 1 Diabetes therapy. It is the global leader in this research field, and its surgeon-scientists run the world’s largest islet transplantation clinical program in the ACTM.