The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Selecta Biosciences Enter Research Collaboration for Vaccines for Type 1 Diabetes
New York, NY, and Watertown, MA – June 9, 2011 – The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and Selecta Biosciences, Inc. announced today that they have established a research collaboration to support Selecta’s development of a vaccine technology, which may subsequently help to better treat and potentially prevent type 1 diabetes.
Through the research partnership, JDRF will provide milestone-based financial support and expertise, with the goal of applying Selecta’s vaccine technology toward the development of vaccines for type 1 diabetes.
Selecta’s vaccine technology would ultimately be applied to create a therapeutic that would halt or prevent the autoimmune response that causes type 1 diabetes. Known as antigen-specific tolerogenic vaccines, these vaccines are designed to specifically stop the autoimmune response that causes the disease without damaging the immune cells that provide protection against infection. Antigen-specific therapies have shown promise to date in animal models of type 1 diabetes.
In addition to their potential in preventing type 1 diabetes, tolerogenic diabetes vaccines could have other benefits. For example, they could be used in conjunction with other therapies to preserve remaining beta cell function in individuals recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This type of vaccine could also help with regeneration and replacement therapies, and be used to protect newly regenerated or transplanted insulin-producing beta cells in established type 1 diabetes. In addition, this class of vaccines may also have applicability for other autoimmune diseases.
“Type 1 diabetes affects individuals of all ages, and the rate of incidence has increased dramatically in the past two decades. This marked increase, especially in children between the ages of one to five years old, has made the need for preventing type 1 diabetes all the more urgent,” said Richard Insel, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer of JDRF.
“We believe vaccine research is one of the most promising approaches to prevent or halt the beta cell-specific autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes. And we are excited to be teaming up with Selecta to support the development of this next-generation of vaccine technology,” added Insel.
“Selecta is excited that JDRF has recognized our technology platform’s potential to rationally design advanced vaccines, based upon synthetic, self-assembling nanoparticles. We view the development of a therapeutic vaccine based on Selecta’s technology to be an excellent opportunity to aid in the treatment of type 1 diabetes,” said Werner Cautreels, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Selecta. “This collaboration accelerates our progress to apply Selecta’s novel vaccine technology to address the significant unmet medical needs in autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes.”
The research collaboration agreement between JDRF and Selecta is part of JDRF’s Industry Discovery and Development Partnership (IDDP) program. This is one of JDRF’s funding mechanisms through which JDRF partners with pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies focused on the discovery, development, and delivery of therapeutics and devices for type 1 diabetes. Since the launch of JDRF’s IDDP and co-sponsored grants program in 2004, JDRF has funded 40 partnerships with 32 companies and committed approximately $75 million to accelerate research that will lead to better treatments and a cure for type 1 diabetes.
“Through partnerships like this, JDRF is helping to speed the development of products from the lab to the marketplace, to make sure breakthroughs in science are able to reach the people they are meant to help,” said Karin Hehenberger, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances for JDRF. “Pooling the resources and strengths of both JDRF and Selecta allows us to work together to advance research that could help many people who have or are at risk for type 1 diabetes, and we will be more effective in making these innovative products available to them.”
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, causing dependence on injected or pumped insulin for life. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes must currently test their blood sugar levels and administer insulin through injections or a pump, multiple times every day. If the destruction of beta cells can be slowed or stopped, people with type 1 diabetes could continue to make more of their own insulin. This would result in better control of blood sugar levels, and likely fewer serious complications of diabetes, such as eye, kidney, and heart disease.
JDRF is the worldwide leader for research to cure type 1 diabetes. It sets the global agenda for diabetes research, and is the largest charitable funder and advocate of diabetes science world-wide.
The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults suddenly, and can be fatal. Until a cure is found, people with type 1 diabetes have to test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin injections multiple times or use a pump – each day, every day of their lives. And even with that intensive care, insulin is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it pre-vent its potential complications, which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation. JDRF estimates that there are as many as three million people in the United States who have type 1diabetes.
Since its founding in 1970 by parents of children with type 1 diabetes, JDRF has awarded more than $1.5 billion to diabetes research, including $107 million last year. More than 80 percent of JDRF’s expenditures directly support research and research-related education. For more information, please visit www.jdrf.org.
Selecta Biosciences, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company developing an entirely new class of targeted vaccines that induces an antigen-specific immune activation or antigen-specific immune tolerance for therapeutic and prophylactic applications. Selecta’s proprietary Synthetic Vaccine Particle (SVP™) platform creates a new paradigm in vaccine development, enabling completely new therapeutic applications while offering the potential of improved efficacy and safety profiles. Selecta’s fully synthetic engineering of novel vaccines offers a number of compelling benefits, including flexible modular vaccine design and accelerated development timelines using simplified manufacturing processes.
Selecta’s SVP™ platform technology is flexible to enable diverse vaccines and the company has created antigen-specific targeted Synthetic Vaccine Particles (tSVP™) and antigen-specific targeted tolerogenic Synthetic Vaccine Particles (t2SVP™). Targeted Synthetic Vaccine Particles (tSVP™) activate immune responses to a wide array of relevant antigens, including small molecules, peptides, oligosaccharides, and proteins. These particles can target humoral or cellular pathways of the immune system. Examples for applications include cancer, infectious diseases and addiction. Targeted tolerogenic Synthetic Vaccine Particles (t2SVP™) are designed to induce antigen-specific immune tolerance. Examples for applications include autoimmune diseases, allergies and transplant rejection. Building on the company’s novel approach, Selecta’s product candidates have the potential to become first-in-class or best-in-class therapeutics to treat and prevent diseases.
Selecta: Kathryn Morris, The Yates Network, (845) 635-9828, firstname.lastname@example.org
JDRF: Joana Casas, (212) 479-7560; email@example.com