Stopping the immune attack — Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge

Roots causes of type 1 diabetes illustration

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This means you can’t produce your own insulin and need to replace it with insulin injections or a pump.

But insulin doesn’t treat the root cause of type 1 diabetes – the immune system’s attack. If we’re to cure or prevent the condition, we need to tackle the root of the problem.

New treatments called immunotherapies are designed to do this. They reprogramme the immune system to stop it attacking and destroying insulin-making beta cells. They’re being tested in clinical trials right now with people who’ve just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and in people who don’t yet have the condition but have a high risk of developing it in the future.

Scientists have shown immunotherapies can help to slow down the attack, delaying the condition in people who are at high risk or protecting surviving beta cells in people who are newly diagnosed.

The Challenge

Current immunotherapies can’t keep the immune system’s attack at bay forever. And how well they work seems to vary a lot between different people.

The Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge will task scientists to build on the impressive progress we’ve seen in this area to unlock the potential of immunotherapies to prevent and form part of a cure for type 1 diabetes.

We need to delve deeper than ever before into the root cause of type 1 diabetes and uncover all the different ways the immune system can attack beta cells.

Current funding opportunities

Browse open funding opportunities across all three of the Type 1 Diabetes Grand Challenge research areas below:

Putting people affected by type 1 diabetes at the heart of research.

Scientific equipment