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Janssen, Foundation to Devise Diabetes Prevention Strategy

Adult testing a child's blood glucose (NIH)

(National Institutes of Health)

12 February 2015. Janssen Research and Development, a division of Johnson & Johnson, and JDRF plan to investigate new ways to diagnose early conditions and prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes. Financial details of the collaboration between Janssen and JDRF, a foundation supporting research on type 1 diabetes, were not disclosed.

Type 1 diabetes is an inherited auto-immune disorder where the body does not produce insulin, and is diagnosed primarily in children or young adults, affecting about 5 percent of all people with diabetes. The disease is believed in many cases to progress for several years, often without symptoms, prior to diagnosis. Research is underway at Medical College of Wisconsin to discover biomarkers in blood or tissue samples that may identify individuals most likely to develop type 1 diabetes before insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed.

Janssen and JDRF aim to develop a strategy of diagnosis and early interventions to identify people with conditions pointing to type 1 diabetes. Janssen is expected to engage its newly formed Disease Interception Accelerator, an independent group within the company focusing on identifying root causes of disease and interventions that stop their progression. This group, located in Raritan, New Jersey, plans to investigate disease susceptibility, conduct risk assessments, and study the influence of factors such as genetic predisposition and environmental exposure.

JDRF says type 1 diabetes has been increasing worldwide, growing by 3 to 4 percent annually, and increasingly in people that have been considered having a lower genetic risk of the disease. This rise in cases and new patterns suggest the disease has a lower threshold and environmental conditions are contributing to its occurrence.

The foundation adds that diagnosing a person with type 1 diabetes before symptoms develop can have a marked impact on the way the disease is researched and treated. A successful approach that intercepts the disease in these early stages could delay or stop its progression, or prevent insulin dependence, thus changing the lives of individuals with type 1 diabetes and their families.

Janssen also unveiled two other new R&D units. The Janssen Prevention Center expects to focus on the prevention of chronic non-communicable diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart conditions, cancer and other autoimmune diseases. The prevention center will operate from labs in Leiden, the Netherlands as well as La Jolla, California and London in the U.K.

In addition, the Janssen Human Microbiome Institute plans to study the microbiome, the collection of bacteria living in and on the human body. The institute plans to conduct its work at labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Beerse, Belgium.

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