Australia and the USA join forces in a $10 million quest to develop a vaccine against juvenile diabetes
In a groundbreaking move towards developing a vaccine or preventative immunotherapy for Type 1 (Juvenile) diabetes, efforts are being made in Australia to establish the World's-first autoimmune vaccine centre.
National Health & Medical Research Council
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation1 March 2002
Australia and the USA join forces in a $10 million quest to develop a vaccine against juvenile diabetesIn a groundbreaking move towards developing a vaccine or preventative immunotherapy for Type 1 (Juvenile) diabetes, efforts are being made in Australia to establish the World's-first autoimmune vaccine centre.
The Commonwealth Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson said Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and the New York based Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (International), had joined forces in a unique collaboration to coordinate the Australian and international research effort.
"Type 1 or Juvenile diabetes, affects an estimated 100,000 Australian children and millions of people worldwide," Senator Patterson said.
"Diabetes is a leading cause of death, blindness, kidney failure and amputation in our community, and Australia has one of the highest rates of juvenile diabetes in the World.
"This partnership will give at-risk children everywhere hope for a treatment. The fact that Australia was chosen as the site for this very worthwhile venture is a great tribute to the NHMRC's prestigious reputation overseas and recognition of Australian expertise in this area."
In order to progress the initiative, a steering committee of international experts in medical research and product development, appointed jointly by JDRF and the NHMRC, has been meeting in Melbourne this week.
Steering Committee Chair, Professor Ian Gust said the NHMRC and the JDRF had each contributed $5 million over three years towards creating an infrastructure that would rapidly translate research on prevention of Type 1 diabetes from the laboratory to the clinic.
"Our current thinking is that the Diabetes Vaccine and Immunotherapy Research Coordinating Centre (DVIRCC) will be a free standing entity with a CEO with experience in product development, reporting to an independent Board. The CEO would have considerable flexibility to contract with Australian research groups, organisations and industry. We expect the Centre to be operating by the end of this year.
"We aim to create a lean, flexible organisation capable of responding rapidly to changing circumstances."
Chairman of the NHMRC's Research Committee, Professor Warwick Anderson, added that the partnership with JDRF provided an exciting opportunity for Australian researchers to take a leading role in diabetes research.
"It is an important initiative in linking research to outcomes, with a view to developing possible new therapies," he said.
Dr Robert Goldstein of JDRF (International), said the international diabetes community was excited that Australian scientists would be working on developing a vaccine.
"Although not a cure for those who already have diabetes, animal studies suggest it may be possible to develop a mechanism to halt the progress of the disease in children, who are at risk," he explained.
"Developing a vaccine for this potentially debilitating condition would resonate around the world. Children would not have to endure four injections of insulin a day and multiple finger pricks to test blood sugar levels, and would no longer fear the development of life threatening health complications. It would be a dream come true for those children at risk of diabetes - and for their parents."
Media Contact: Randal Markey (Minister Patterson's Office) (02) 6277 7220, Jeanne Klener (NHMRC) (02) 6289 5796 / 0401 995 534, Rowena Newcomen (JDRF) (02) 9966 0400 xtn 203 / 0417 428 579