JDRF, Sanofi Award $4.6 Million for Insulin Research

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, in partnership with Sanofi US Services, has announced $4.6 million in new agreements with four research organizations to support the development of an alternate class of therapies aimed at improving treatment of Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes (T1D).

The JDRF/Sanofi collaboration will work to accelerate the innovation and development of glucose-responsive insulins (GRIs) that activate when blood-glucose levels become elevated and deactivate when levels become low, preventing dangerous highs and lows. The selected projects will take different approaches to formulating and/or delivering GRIs. JDRF's scientific team spearheaded efforts to select the projects and will continue to provide guidance during the discovery and translational phases of research. Sanofi’s Research and Translational Medicine team will provide scientific expertise in insulin research and development to enhance successful transition of the projects to human clinical trials.

The four researchers funded through the collaboration are Alborz Mahdavi, whose startup, Protomer Technologies, hopes to develop insulin analogs with engineered glucose responsivity; Christoph Hagemeyer of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, who will work to develop glucose-sensing nanoparticles; North Carolina State University/UNC Chapel Hill researcher Zhen Gu, who will work to develop different GRI patches; and University of Utah researcher and former JDRF postdoctoral fellow Danny Chou, who will explore an alternative approach to analog insulin so that it deactivates once blood glucose drops below a certain level.

"The development of GRIs is aligned with JDRF's vision of less disease burden until none for people living with T1D," said JDRF assistant vice president of translational development Sanjoy Dutta. "These drugs may be able to address many of the shortcomings and challenges of current insulin therapy by providing a treatment that can more reliably maintain blood sugar levels within a safe range and potentially help reduce the burden of managing T1D by minimizing dosing frequency. JDRF is committed to driving development of GRIs for the T1D community, and we are excited to partner with Sanofi because their knowledge and expertise in insulin development will help drive these research projects toward success."