Dr Tim Tree and researchers across the UK will set up a network of specialist labs to examine samples from all UK-based trials of immune therapies for Type 1 diabetes.
They will carry out state-of-the-art studies of their safety and effectiveness to accelerate research into new treatments.
Background to research
Over the last few years, a rapidly growing number of clinical trials have worked to reduce or prevent the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in people with Type 1 diabetes.
Some trials helped to slow the loss of insulin production in some of those who took part, whereas others have had no effect or, in rare cases, accelerated the development of Type 1 diabetes.
Scientists have looked at changes in the immune system of those who took part in these trials, to understand why treatments can succeed or fail in different people.
This has led to important discoveries about why some treatments work, why others do not and why different individuals can benefit from different treatments.
However, these studies have been limited by the local expertise available where each study was carried out, leading to limitations on the knowledge gained. In other cases, key investigations were only performed years after each trial was completed, slowing the rate of progress.
Dr Tim Tree will work with researchers across the UK to set up a UK-wide network of specialist labs to examine blood samples from all UK-based trials of immune therapies for Type 1 diabetes and carry out world-class, state-of-the-art studies of their safety and effectiveness.
In particular, they will measure a wide range of key immune cells and molecules thought to play important roles in the destruction of insulin-producing cells.
This work will be carried out by leading experts and the results fed back rapidly to research teams working on each trial, allowing them to adapt their approaches.
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
This project will help to improve the UK-wide sharing of knowledge on why some experimental treatments for Type 1 diabetes work and why others do not. It will also help to reveal who is most likely to benefit from particular therapies and what combinations of therapies are most effective.
Improved understanding will help UK diabetes scientists to build on each success and learn from each failure much more quickly. This will inform the design of future studies and accelerate research into new treatments and reduce potential risks.