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JDRF to establish an autoimmunity center at University of Colorado Denver

AURORA, Colo. (Jan. 28, 2008) Researchers at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado Denver have new resources in their fight against type 1 diabetes: The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has approved funding for the establishment of a JDRF Autoimmunity Center at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, only the seventh in the nation. The Autoimmunity Center will receive approximately $1 million a year over the next five years to further fund research leading to a cure for type 1 diabetes.

The goal of this partnership is to utilize the Barbara Davis Centers resources in collaboration with JDRFs to create an Autoimmunity Center to develop therapies specifically aimed at immunoprevention of type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that develops when the bodys immune system mistakenly targets the beta cells of the pancreas, the cells that make insulin.

The JDRF Center will bring together faculty with complementary expertise and knowledge to advance the understanding of pathogenesis diabetes in animals and humans as well as allow us to implement trials in human subjects based on the results, said John Hutton, PhD, research director at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado Denver and principal investigator on the grant. We have learned an immense amount in the past 20 years about the causes of the disease and have sophisticated genetic and immunological assays to predict it -- the challenge is how to translate this knowledge into effective therapies, particularly those aimed at circumventing the progression of autoimmunity to clinical disease. The JDRF Center will help us tremendously with addressing this challenge.

We are delighted to establish the JDRF Autoimmunity Center at the Barbara Davis Center, said Teodora Staeva, Ph.D. Program Director, Autoimmunology, at JDRF. This JDRF Center will focus on developing novel antigen-specific approaches to predict, prevent, and possibly reverse type 1 diabetes.

The JDRF Center brings together a team of basic scientists and clinical researchers, and includes Dr. Hutton, along with George Eisenbarth, MD, PhD; Peter Gottlieb, MD; Howard Davidson, PhD; and Danny Zipris. The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes will be the administrative hub of this JDRF Autoimmunity Center.

Two of the three main research projects will investigate the new autoantigen, ZnT8 -- a recently discovered fourth antigenic specificity recognized by an antibody in human blood that will help more accurately predict who is predisposed to type 1 diabetes. The initial research and discovery was led by Dr. Hutton and his research team at the Barbara Davis Center, and supported by the Childhood Diabetes Foundation in Denver.

A clinical trial will be conducted in children with extreme risk of developing type 1 diabetes using an insulin-based vaccination procedure aimed at preventing the occurrence of autoimmunity that inevitably leads to diabetes. A second trial is planned in the future based on ZnT8 and will develop similar prevention strategies.


Contact: Leslie Schwartz
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International

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