About JDRF's Research
JDRF is the leading supporter of T1D research globally. We evaluate the Australian and global research landscapes and support the most promising programs from learning, to lab, to life-changing breakthroughs. We mobilise a vast network of people who work together in pursuit of a world without T1D.
Our research portfolio is divided into three areas: Cure, Treat and Prevent.
Curing T1D means restoring the body’s ability to regulate glucose and finding a way for insulin-producing beta cells to live in the body. There are two ways to do this: the regeneration of beta cells or the replacement of beta cells. JDRF funds projects in Australia tackling both approaches.
In T1D, beta cells are stressed, hastening the autoimmune process that leads to their deaths. Beta cells, however, can persist long after T1D diagnosis, and in certain situations the body can even regrow new beta cells. This gives JDRF-funded researchers tools to develop therapies that relieve beta cell stress and promote their survival and regrowth.
One known way to cure T1D – at least for a short time – is to replace destroyed beta cells with, and protect them so that they can function for a very long time – an islet transplant. Currently, only a small portion of people living with T1D can receive an islet transplant because of the challenges of producing beta cells, and the need for transplant recipients to take immunosuppressant medications to protect the implanted beta cells for the rest of their life.
We're working on:
- Developing renewable beta cell sources.
- Finding ways to reduce or remove the need for immunosuppressive medications.
- Shielding the beta cells from immune system attacks through encapsulation.
Cure by the numbers
- 104 islet transplants have been performed in 62 recipients in Australia.
- 18 people in Australia no longer need to take insulin because of islet transplant.
Daily management of T1D remains a significant challenge. Our treat portfolio includes research in the development of hybrid closed loop systems, new technology and guidelines to improve glucose control, and the prevention of T1D complications.
Hybrid Closed Loop
A hybrid closed loop insulin pump system is the closest thing available to an artificial pancreas – the ultimate tech goal. These systems monitor blood glucose levels with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and use an algorithm to automatically provide insulin when it is needed.
JDRF funds the world’s longest and largest at home trial of a hybrid closed loop system, taking place across Australia.
Glucose Control and Complications
We now know that complications from T1D can be reduced significantly with tight blood glucose control, and our researchers are working on therapies to treat and prevent the most common T1D complications – like kidney and eye disease.
We're working on:
- Ways to increase access to technology to make glucose levels easier to manage.
- Improving food and exercise guidelines ad education.
- Finding predictive markers and therapies for kidney and eye complications.
In Australia, T1D is one of the most common chronic diseases in children. If we can understand the factors that cause T1D to develop, we can ultimately find ways to prevent the condition.
The Australian ENDIA study is the world’s largest study investigating environment factors that might contribute to – or protect against – T1D development, starting from pregnancy. ENDIA aims to understand these factors so we can modify them to prevent T1D in the future. Find out more about ENDIA.
Screening for Risk
Screening programs aim to identify people in the population who are at an increased risk of T1D, before they develop symptoms. This leads to better management in the long term, and a lower risk of diabetic keto acidosis (DKA). Read about JDRF’s plans for a general population screening program.
With JDRF’s support, researchers are developing immunotherapies that can delay the onset of T1D for several years, and ground-breaking vaccines that could protect children against the disease. Read about our latest breakthrough.
The T1D CRN has transformed the scientific landscape in Australia
The T1D CRN is a network of world-class researchers who are dedicated to increasing the impact of clinical research in Australia. Clinical research is the critical final step in making new technologies and treatments a reality, and the T1DCRN aims to accelerate this step and deliver breakthroughs that positively impact the lives of people with T1D.
The T1DCRN was launched by JDRF in June 2010 through a $5 million grant from the Federal Government. In 2014, the T1DCRN received a boost of $35 million from The Australian Research Council, the largest ever single commitment to T1D research in Australia. Most recently in 2019, T1D research received a further $56 million funding commitment from the Federal Government, including $31 million to ensure the vital work of the T1DCRN can continue until at least 2024.
The Australian Type 1 Diabetes Research Agenda was developed in partnership with researchers, clinicians, funders, and patient representatives across Australia. The Agenda facilitates a shared vision for Type 1 Diabetes research in Australia by providing a view of the landscape.
The Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Resource Map provides a comprehensive overview of research resources for Australian researchers in the field of Type 1 Diabetes. The Resource Map has identified five key areas in the research development pipeline.
The Type 1 Diabetes Global Research Impact Analysis is a systematic assessment of the volume and impact of publications relevant to Type 1 Diabetes. Globally over 22,000 articles were published during the five years of the review (2008 – 2012).