JDRF Australia: Finding a cure for type 1 diabetes

27 June 2016

The problem

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that strikes suddenly, usually in children and young adults, and has no known cure. Over 120,000 Australian children and adults have type 1 diabetes, with six new cases diagnosed every day.

Half of those diagnosed are under the age of 18. The causes of type 1 diabetes are not fully understood but researchers have identified a variety of genetic and environmental triggers. While the disease can be managed through blood monitoring, insulin therapy, diet and exercise, the only hope for a cure lies in ongoing medical research.

The proposition

JDRF is a global organisation which aims to cure, prevent and treat type 1 diabetes and its complications. It works with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver therapies to people living with the disease and to restore the body’s normal ability to produce insulin after the disease strikes.

The partnership

In 2008, JDRF Australia and the Macquarie Group Foundation created the Global Diabetes Research Innovation Partnership to increase the volume and impact of type 1 diabetes research in Australia and around the world. This support has meant JDRF can help shape the international research agenda and influence decisions across the medical health spectrum.

"I cannot overstate how important it is to have support that covers money, advice, resources and skill in seeking to make this type of change.".

Mike Wilson
CEO, JDRF Australia

In March 2016, Macquarie approved a further A$540,000 to JDRF, as part of a new three-year partnership. JDRF also has many supporters among Macquarie’s global staff, some of whom have been personally touched by the disease. They have participated in JDRF fundraising initiatives for many years, raising more than A$1 million, together with Macquarie Group Foundation matching.

Phase 1 of the partnership, which focused on Australian research development, included:

  • The establishment of Australia’s first national type 1 diabetes research summit in 2009, hosted in Macquarie’s Melbourne office
  • The launch of Australia’s type 1 diabetes Research Agenda in 2010, featuring a snapshot of Australian research into the disease
  • The launch of Australia’s first type 1 diabetes Research Resource Map in 2011 identifying key opportunities to better utilise resources
  • The completion of the inaugural type 1 diabetes Global Research Impact Analysis in 2013, a systematic assessment of the impact of 22,000 publications relevant to type 1 diabetes
  • Awarding nine research innovation grants, eight innovation awards and 81 young scientist travel grants

Phase 2, which extended the partnership globally, included:

  • The creation of a type 1 diabetes Clinical Research Resource Map in 2015 for researchers, which identifies existing databases, biobanks, infrastructures and research networks.
  • The support of direct research through a further six research innovation grants recognising scientists who have made breakthroughs both in Australia and internationally.
  • Macquarie staff fundraising to support international collaborative studies.
  • Investment in JDRF Australia’s internal research capacity.

JDRF funded research projects have included:

  • A study of whether kidney damage can be prevented or reversed by inhibiting the body’s inflammatory response
  • An exploration of the uses of an approved cancer drug that prevents some of the destruction of the insulin producing cells
  • A study looking for a new biomarker for type 1 diabetes
  • A trail exploring whether drugs used in the lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol are safe in adolescents and whether they are effective in delaying the onset of common complications, such as blindness, heart disease and kidney failure
  • An examination of new technology that improves the control of insulin delivery to people overnight.

Source: JDRF Australia, March 2016