Researcher Yong Wang looks at islets cells through

FAQ

What is the Chicago Diabetes Project?

The project is the first-ever international collaboration by a group of highly qualified researchers and physicians and their respective teams and institutions to find a functional cure for diabetes.

How many people have diabetes?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, 20.8 million people in the US (7% of the population) have diabetes. Worldwide, diabetes affects 197 million people, with Type 1 diabetes affecting 1.5 million. According to World Health Organization estimates, these numbers will more than double by 2030. In the United States, a new case of diabetes is diagnosed every 30 seconds; over 1.3 million people are diagnosed each year.

How many people donate their pancreases to be used for islet cell transplantation?

The most promising treatment for diabetes today is islet cell transplantation. With only a third of the 6,000 annual pancreatic organ donors being suitable for pancreas donation and up to three donors needed for each transplant, the ability to make this treatment available to individuals with diabetes is severely limited. This project seeks to develop an unlimited, artificial source of pancreatic islet cells to be used for thousands of transplants and strongly encourages individuals to become organ donors.

What will a functional cure for diabetes look like?

The goal of the Chicago Diabetes Project is to produce an unlimited source of cells suitable for safe transplantation, which are capable of controlling blood-sugar levels.  These cells would be encapsulated to protect against the assaults of immune cells and allow the recipient to live with little or no dependency on medication needed to prevent rejection or the systemic immunosuppression of a transplant.

Why is it called the Chicago Diabetes Project?

The vision for this project began with seed funding and support from the Chicago-based Washington Square Health Foundation, and it became clear that the name of the city hosting this project could best identify it. Coordinated by Dr. Jose Oberholzer, director of cell transplantation at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and drawing on resources and talent from Chicago’s top universities and hospitals, as well as others from around the world, the project evolved into a worldwide consortium.

How does this project benefit Chicago?

Three of Chicago’s top hospitals will combine efforts and resources to serve as the clinical platform for islet cell transplantation and translational research for this project. The collaborative strategy for the Chicago Diabetes Project reflects the way the modern corporate world works in a global economy, using the best technologies and talent available to avoid duplicating efforts. Not only would these combined efforts directly improve and benefit Chicago’s healthcare community, but it would also bring a much needed biomedical and economic boost to the city.

How does the Chicago Diabetes Project differ from other approaches to research in diabetes?

The Chicago Diabetes Project is a paradigm shift in conducting research. The project’s collaborative approach to finding a cure applies already proven research findings to developing research, which is not funded or driven by traditional scientific funding sources. By integrating transplantation with developmental biology, chemistry, cell and molecular biology, and engineering, many obstacles are eliminated. This project differs greatly from basic research in that it focuses on one mission for the next five years. The goal of basic research may not be centered on a procedure or treatment which can be immediately applied to patient care, but rather on broadening knowledge.

How were the Chicago Diabetes Project’s team members chosen?

Team members were selected for their unique contribution to the overall project and for their ability to effectively manage their component’s specific subproject. These experts were hand-selected for their knowledge and experience, as well as for their vision and willingness to recognize that what one person cannot accomplish alone in their career can be achieved with a team approach.

Can this treatment be applied to all types of diabetes?

Today, this treatment is focused on type I rather than type II diabetes and is presently offered to those individuals who cannot control their blood sugar by current methods or cannot recognize when their blood sugar is low. With the availability of an unlimited cell source and avoidance of immunosupression, this treatment can be extended for most people with diabetes, which is the goal of the Chicago Diabetes Project.

How will the Chicago Project fund their efforts?

The Chicago Diabetes Project and its clinical platform, the Chicago Islet Consortium, seek generous contributions primarily from individuals, academic institutions, foundations, private businesses, and community organizations to support the scientific teams, purchase materials and conduct research.