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Lilly partners with diabetes group

Lilly has formed a partnership with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation aimed at using regenerative medicine to treat type 1 diabetes

Lilly has formed a partnership with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) aimed at using regenerative medicine to treat type 1 diabetes, a form of the disease that affects about 3 million people in the US.

Under the agreement, Lilly will fund three years of early-stage research into an investigational therapy that could help patients to regenerate the insulin-producing cells that are destroyed by diabetes. This approach could potentially eliminate the need for insulin therapy in diabetic patients, Lilly noted.

Lilly will provide $1.4m to support preclinical research efforts led by the University of Geneva's Dr Pedro Herrera, whose earlier research has shown that alpha cells in the pancreas can spontaneously convert into beta cells, suggesting that alpha cell reprogramming could potentially be used to regenerate beta cells.

Herrera will work with scientists at Lilly "to better understand these findings with the goal of translating them into potential drug targets and eventually, perhaps, even new therapies," the company said.

Diabetes has long been an area of focus for Lilly, which introduced the world's first commercial insulin product in 1923. More recently, Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim last month signed an agreement to jointly develop and commercialise a portfolio of diabetes compounds currently in mid- and late-stage development. That deal includes two of Lilly's investigational long-lasting insulin products that are set to enter late-stage testing later this year.

JDRF maintains partnerships with a number of pharmaceutical companies, including a significant deal signed with Amylin late last year to investigate metreleptin, an analogue of the human hormone leptin, as a treatment for type 1 diabetes.

4th February 2011

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