On May 29, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, JDRF and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced a collaborative research initiative, which will see the three nonprofits funding $10 million in autoimmunity research over a three-year period. Primary goals include gaining a better understanding of the diagnosis of autoimmune disorders following cancer immunotherapy and a specific focus on preventing the occurrence of insulin-dependent diabetes following cancer therapies.
Immunotherapy is a common treatment for several cancers and researchers have observed an overwhelming rate of success with the treatment. But according to research published in the ADA journal Diabetes, after treatment with checkpoint inhibitors, roughly 1% of patients develop a form of insulin-dependent diabetes that appears similar to Type 1.
“The clinical success of immune checkpoint inhibitors such as ipilimumab, nivolumab and pembrolizumab has changed the face of cancer therapy, extending lives of patients who previously had few choices. In rare cases, these patients develop insulin-dependent diabetes, and nobody truly understands how or why,” said Parker Institute CEO and President Jeffrey Bluestone, Ph.D.