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Funding boost for type 1 diabetes research

Press release issued: 16 February 2010

Two University of Bristol academics are part of a group of 14 leading European researchers who have received a EU grant of €10.9 million to develop and trial a new treatment for type 1 diabetes.

A new treatment for type 1 diabetes could be a step closer thanks to a EU grant of €10.9 million.

Two University of Bristol academics are part of a group of 14 leading researchers who have received the award.  Professor Polly Bingley and Dr Colin Dayan will collaborate with researchers from eight European countries to develop and trial "natural immunomodulators" to change the immune process that destroys the insulin making cells in this condition.

Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile onset diabetes, affects over 100,000 adults and children in the UK and results in a life-long dependence on insulin injections.

Professor Bingley's research group have shown that children who are going to develop type 1 diabetes can be identified many years in advance by testing for particular antibodies in their blood. 

This finding has prepared the way for trials of treatments that could potentially slow or stop the process at this stage, therefore preventing the need for insulin. The first multinational type 1 diabetes prevention study was based in Bristol and this approach remains a major research focus.

Polly Bingley, Professor of Diabetes and Head of the Department of Clinical Science at North Bristol, commenting about the research collaboration, said: "About two million people in Europe, around 0.5 per cent of the population, and several million people worldwide suffer from this disease.

"The research team hope to pioneer new therapies that can be used in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.  There is a large amount of work to be done and it will be several years before there are any results."

Dr Dayan, Head of Clinical Research and Reader in the Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology, has been collaborating with colleagues at King's College, London, to develop a "diabetes vaccine" that might eventually be used in this way.  They recently completed a preliminary trial of a possible candidate.

In the EU programme, Professor Bingley and her team will be involved in trials to test new treatments developed by the consortium and use antibody tests to see whether they are having a useful effect on the immune system. 

Dr Dayan's group will extend their work on potential vaccines and will explore novel ways of treating the skin to make these treatments more effective.

Further information

NAIMIT (Natural immunomodulators as novel immunotherapies for type 1 diabetes) is a collaborative project funded by the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7) and co-ordinated by the Laboratory of Experimental Medicine and Endocrinology at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL).

Polly Bingley is Professor of Diabetes and Head of the Department of Clinical Science at North Bristol at the University of Bristol.

Dr Colin Dayan is Head of Clinical Research and Reader, Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology at the University of Bristol.

Professor Bingley and Dr Dayan will receive about €1 million from the total €10.9 million EU grant.

Please contact Joanne Fryer for further information.