New American Diabetes Association Grants Expand Diabetes Research

GAINESVILLE, FL – Researchers at the University of Florida have received nearly $1M from the American Diabetes Association, the nation’s largest and leading voluntary health organization leading the fight to Stop Diabetes®, to enable the launch of two new multi-year studies seeking to prevent the disease. Learn about these award announcements below.

Mechanisms of Type 1 Diabetes Remission Induced by Combination Therapy

Clayton Mathews, Ph.D.

Clayton Mathews, Ph.D., professor, department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine, was awarded a three-year pilot grant that will allow for new investigation of pharmacological interventions for treating Type 1 diabetes (T1D). The award builds on findings from a recent UF Health study which showed that combining two medical treatments to tamp down the immune system may help preserve insulin function in T1D patients. These promising results have led to a new national trial lead by Michael Haller, M.D. from the University of Florida.

Members of the UF Diabetes Institute seek to learn more about tailoring drug treatments to improve health outcomes. The new study will utilize rapidly emerging science of immune diagnostics to identify new mechanistic entry points for drug discovery and their potential application in T1D to boost regeneration of insulin‐producing beta cells. “The reality for many T1D patients today is that diabetes-linked complications will arise,” according to Matthews. “Further investigation of novel therapeutic agents that may work to restore cell function may reduce these prospects for these patients in the future,” he said.

Oral Delivery of Bioencapsulated ACE2 and Ang1-7 for Therapy of Diabetic Retinopathy

eye-450x305Researchers in the laboratory of Qiuhong Li, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of ophthalmology, will begin a three-year pilot study focusing on the discovery of new treatments for patients with diabetic retinopathy – the leading cause of blindness among U.S. adults. At present, the condition affects more than seven million Americans and by 2050, this number is projected to triple.

Dr. Li’s team seeks to develop a prototype capsule that can protect retinal tissues from damage in the early stages of the disease. This award is one of only a few ADA-funded research projects working to reduce the burden of diabetic eye disease. “We are looking very much forward to elucidating novel targeted therapies in diabetic retinopahty, urgently needed to slowing or halting the progression of this devastating disease,” says Dr. Li.

About the UF Diabetes Institute
The UF Diabetes Institute serves as the umbrella organization under which diabetes education, research, prevention and treatment are coordinated at UF and the academic UF Health Science Center. The Institute is committed to advancing patient care and ultimately finding a cure through innovative treatment, education and pioneering research. The UF Diabetes Institute unites more than 100 faculty members in the areas of endocrinology, education, epidemiology, patient and physician education, clinical care, health outcomes and policy, behavioral science, rural medicine, and more.