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JDRF announces Type 1 diabetes treatment competition winners


NEW YORK — An organization focused on Type 1 diabetes research announced Monday the winners of a competition to find new ways to treat the disease.

The organization, JDRF, formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, announced the winners of what it called the first-ever public challenge to find new theoretical ideas to approach the discovery and development of glucose-responsive insulin treatments. The treatment would deliver a price amount of insulin needed in response to circulating blood glucose levels 24 hours a day, reducing or eliminating high and low blood sugars and much of the daily burden of managing diabetes.

The winners included one individual and two teams of scientists: Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Light White Innovation Technology owner Luz Blanco; University of Texas at Austin doctoral fellow Chen Xi and research partner Feng Siqian; and California Institute of Technology graduate students Mohsen Chitsaz and Alborz Mahdavi.

JDRF launched the competition a year ago under a partnership with open innovation and crowdsourcing company InnoCentive a year ago. The two selected for final review 23 applicants out of a total of 63. Three of the ideas were selected to receive the Agnes Varis GRI Grand Challenge Prize, made possible with support from the Agnes Varis Charitable Trust. JDRF said the next GRI challenge will be a "discovery phase," which will build on the winning ideas, providing experimental design and validation of the potential GRI drugs, culminating in pre-clinical proof-of-concept studies with timelines and budget estimates.

"Out-of-the-box thinking and crowdsourcing have proven to be valuable tools in research," JDRF treat therapies senior director Sanjoy Dutta said. "We look forward to beginning early discovery research based on the original ideas of these talented prize winners."

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