The Special Diabetes Program (SDP), under the National Institutes of Health, provides about $150 million each year for research into ways to better manage the disease and even work toward a cure. Funding for the program is scheduled to run out on September 30, and Congress should waste no time refunding it, argues Aaron J. Kowalski, CEO of JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).
About 1.25 million Americans live with type 1 diabetes (T1D), Kowalski points out (including him). “Diabetes impacts every aspect of life—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—but today we can better manage this disease and we’re steps closer to cures, thanks to federal funding for T1D research provided through” SDP, he writes in the Hill.
SDP-funded research supported studies that show that a new artificial pancreas system helped subjects maintain healthier blood sugar levels. Also, SDP has been in the forefront in making immunotherapies part of the fight against T1D.
“Yet while we have made progress, there is still important work to be done,” Kowalski writes. “Through the SDP, we need to invest in beta cell research and understand how and why the immune system acts the way it does to make progress toward curing T1D. These answers would have implications for numerous diseases, from multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis to cancer.”
Kowalski notes that despite wide bipartisan support for SDP, in 2017 reallocation was delayed, forcing researchers to postpone enrollment in a clinical trial. “By the time the funding was in place, some people who would have been eligible for the clinical trial had already developed full onset T1D and could no longer participate,” Kowalski writes. “With continuous funding, their diagnosis potentially could have been delayed.”