NEW YORK, June 18, 2009 - The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation said today that for the fourth time in 18 months, one of its biotech partners has signed a collaboration agreement with a large pharmaceutical company to move research on type 1 diabetes into the final phases of trials.
According to JDRF, a leader in setting the agenda for diabetes research worldwide and the largest charitable funder and advocate of type 1 diabetes research, the development is the latest success in its innovative Industry Discovery and Development Partnership (IDDP) program, through which JDRF provides early stage research funding to biotech companies working on technologies and therapeutic candidates.
In the most recent success, JDRF industry partner Bayhill Therapeutics Inc., based in California, entered into a collaboration agreement with Genentech, Inc., a wholly owned member of the Roche Group, to further develop and potentially commercialize a novel antigen-specific immunotherapeutic designed to reverse the immune response that causes type 1 diabetes.
To date, JDRF has awarded more than $29 million in research funding to 25 companies through its IDDP program. JDRF supported the ongoing Bayhill clinical trial with an IDDP grant in October of 2008.
"We began the IDDP program to help small companies demonstrate proof-of-principle for innovative ideas and products to treat and cure type 1 diabetes, in order to attract funding for potential commercialization from large drug companies," said Alan J. Lewis, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of JDRF. "This latest agreement further demonstrates that the strategy is successful in accelerating the pace of research leading to a cure for diabetes."
Dr. Lewis noted that the development underscores JDRF's unique role helping to accelerate and translate research discoveries into cures and better treatment of type 1 diabetes and its complications. By supporting early stage research at small biotech companies, JDRF looks to lower the risk for larger pharmaceutical companies to create biotech partnerships and carry the products through expensive, late-stage trials and regulatory approvals. The goal, he said, is to bring cures and treatments for type 1 diabetes to market faster.
Other IDDP partners that have created similar agreements include: Tolerx, based in Massachusetts, which has joined with GlaxoSmithKline to develop an anti-CD3 antibody to preserve beta cell function in newly diagnosed patients; Maryland-based MacroGenics, which is developing a similar antibody with Lilly; and Canada's Transition Therapeutics, which has signed a commercialization agreement for a beta cell regenerative therapy with Lilly.
Bayhill's BHT-3021 compound is now in Phase I/II clinical trials supported by JDRF, is a plasmid encoding proinsulin designed to target specific pathogenic immune cells involved in the immune response of type 1 diabetes.
About Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that affects children, adolescents, and adults, in which the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone that enables people to convert food into energy. People with type 1 diabetes are dependent on insulin for the rest of their life. But insulin is not a cure, and people with diabetes are at significant risk for a wide range of serious complications, including heart disease, blindness and kidney disease. As many as 3 million people in the U.S. have type 1 diabetes.
About Bayhill Therapeutics
Bayhill Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company at the forefront of developing novel and targeted treatment candidates for autoimmune diseases. Leveraging its proprietary therapeutic BHT-DNA™ platform, the Company's product candidates are designed to restore patient's immunological "tolerance" to self antigens to a normal state by selectively eliminating specific, harmful immune responses while leaving the rest of the immune system intact. Through a targeted and selective approach, Bayhill's product candidates have the potential to deliver superior efficacy, safety and tolerability relative to current therapies. For more information please visit www.bayhilltherapeutics.com.
The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. Type 1 diabetes is a disease which strikes children and adults suddenly and requires multiple injections of insulin daily or a continuous infusion of insulin through a pump. Insulin, however, is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent its eventual and devastating complications which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation. Since its founding in 1970 by parents of children with type 1 diabetes, JDRF has awarded more than $1.3 billion to diabetes research, including more than $156 million in FY2008. In FY2008 the Foundation funded more than 1,000 centers, grants and fellowships in 22 countries.