The Diabetes Research Institute: Moving Groundbreaking Research From the Lab to Patients

Nov 14, 2017 2:15 PM ET

November is Diabetes Awareness month, and a time to elevate the dialogue about how this disease affects millions of people across the world. For those living with and managing the disease every day, a world free from the pain and suffering of diabetes is the ultimate dream.

While there are many organizations that raise awareness about diabetes, the Diabetes Research Institute is unique in its singular focus on a cure. Our dedication to curing diabetes now is a testament to the belief that tomorrow is not soon enough to cure those living with diabetes.

The DRI has always been and continues to be a strong voice for translational research, ensuring that promising findings in the lab are applied to patients in the fastest, safest and most efficient way possible. This long-standing philosophy drives its collaborative, fast-track approach to advancing cutting-edge disciplines that have a real potential to deliver a cure, like tissue engineering, nanotechnology, immune-modulation, biomaterials, cellular reprogramming, and regenerative medicine, among others. Its singular focus on a cure, along with the integration of technology and medicine, is what makes the DRI unique and distinguishes its research efforts from all others.

Clinical trials – moving exciting DRI research from the laboratory to people living with diabetes – represent a significant step forward in the DRI’s search for a biological cure. It is an exciting time at the DRI, as scientists gear up for four new clinical trials:

  • The DIPIT (Diabetes Islet Preservation Immune Treatment) trial is a multi-combination therapy that will focus on halting immune system attack in new-onset diabetes, preserving islet cell function (cells that produce insulin), and, possibly, allowing the body to regenerate its own islets. This first-ever therapy will combine five different agents that have demonstrated significant benefits for patients when tested previously in combinations of two or three.
  • DRI scientists are conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of low doses of Interleuken-2 (IL-2), which is naturally produced by the body, in rebalancing the immune system and preserving insulin function in people with established type 1 diabetes and who are still producing some insulin. Low-doses of IL-2 have already shown benefits in other autoimmune diseases.
  • The Intraocular Islet Transplant Trial will test the safety of transplanting islets into the anterior chamber of the eye to try to prevent the immune system from attacking the cells. The eye is one of few selected sites in the body that are “immune privileged” – where an immune reaction is dampened. Researches will learn whether this method can achieve “immune tolerance” just locally in the eye or help retrain the entire immune system.
  • DRI researchers hypothesize that treatment with high doses of vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids, both of which have known anti-inflammatory properties, may delay or slow the progression of type 1 diabetes, and several scientific reports have suggested this possibility. Pending regulatory approval, DRI researchers will launch a pilot trial to test this combination therapy in children and adults as a safe and cost-effective means of halting the progression of type 1 diabetes and increasing islet function.

It is through these clinical trials that DRI scientists will learn more about this complex disease, with a specific focus on tacking the complex challenges of the immune system. These trials represent the culmination of many years of research, and will bring us one step closer to a cure.

To learn more about the work of the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation, please visit or contact us at 1-800-321-3437 or