The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, JDRF, and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust have announced the launch of a $10 million research initiative focused on discovering links between certain cancer treatments and insulin-dependent diabetes.
While immunotherapy has become first-line treatment for several types of cancer, researchers have discovered that some patients develop autoimmune disorders after treatment. According to research published in the journal Diabetes, roughly 1 percent of patients who receive treatment with checkpoint inhibitors develop a kind of insulin-dependence similar to type 1 diabetes (T1D), an autoimmune disorder affecting some 1.25 million people in the United States in which insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system and the pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that controls blood-sugar levels.
The collaboration will support autoimmunity research over three years, with the goal of understanding, predicting, and preventing insulin-dependent diabetes following checkpoint therapy for cancer. Research could reveal important knowledge of the causes of T1D in the general population and potential alternative treatments.