Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mass. General Center Joins JDRF Consortium Following Groundbreaking Diabetes Research

BOSTON, MA – The Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (VIC), has joined with 24 other institutions as part of the first-ever JDRF Encapsulation Consortium in the fight against type 1 diabetes. VIC’s inclusion in the Consortium is a result of its groundbreaking development of an encapsulant that overcomes the immunologic rejection of transplanted insulin producing cells.

Currently, patients with type 1 diabetes regulate their blood sugar levels with regular injections of insulin. VIC’s life-changing solution could help these patients to achieve insulin independence by allowing the insulin-producing beta cells to be implanted into the body without rejection. VIC’s recent discovery involves a natural protein that can be used to combat immunologic rejection of the islet cells within the encapsulant. Implanted into the patient, the protected islets have the potential to do what they have already done in mouse models:  cure diabetes. While the research is only in its beginning stages, VIC’s unique contribution, combined with the strengths and experience of the other 24 members of the JDRF consortium, could change the lives of thousands living with the disease.

The purpose of the JDRF consortium is to support a collaborative group of key players in science, engineering and medicine in their research of encapsulation technology. The ultimate goal of the project is to create a product similar to VIC’s that protects implanted beta cells from the immune system. “JDRF is investing in a diverse portfolio of different approaches and technologies, and we want to continue to build the pipeline of encapsulation technologies,” says Albert Hwa, PhD, senior scientific program manager for beta cell therapies at JDRF.

The consortium has set out an aggressive timeline to meet the goal of establishing insulin independence without chronic immunosuppression in humans. Milestones for each project have been set, and consortium members will interact monthly to discuss their progress and any new developments.

In response to VIC’s inclusion in the JDRF Consortium, director Mark Poznansky, MD, PhD, said, “Our discovery at VIC marks a significant step forward in the fight against type 1 diabetes. We believe the JDRF consortium will greatly aid this team effort to bring this discovery to patients in need in a safe, effective and rapid manner.”

About the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) at Massachusetts General Hospital

VIC is a diverse network of medical and business professionals convened to accelerate the development of novel preventative and potentially curative medicines for diabetes, infectious diseases and cancer.

About the Massachusetts General Hospital

Founded in 1811, the MGH is the third oldest general hospital in the United States and the oldest and largest in New England. The 900-bed medical center offers sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic care in virtually every specialty and subspecialty of medicine and surgery. Each year the MGH admits more than 46,000 inpatients and handles nearly 1.5 million outpatient visits at its main campus and health centers. Its Emergency Department records nearly 80,000 visits annually. The surgical staff performs more than 35,000 operations and the MGH Vincent Obstetrics Service delivers more than 3,500 babies each year. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the country, with an annual research budget of more than $500 million. It is the oldest and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, where nearly all MGH staff physicians serve on the faculty. The MGH is consistently ranked among the nation’s top hospitals by US News and World Report.







Donita Boddie, MGH Public Affairs, (617) 724-5627;

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