Updated on 12 June 2015
Singapore: Johnson & Johnson has begun a new research partnership in collaboration with immunologist and Washington University professor, Dr Emil Unanue and his colleagues to explore how specific immune system cells are involved in the initiation and progression of Type 1 diabetes.
This will be J&J's first initiative under its ambitious project to prevent or at least intercept and reduce harm from many diseases.The company has signed nearly 17 collaborations with academic universities to partner and work on many diseases and their potential treatments.
The disease, also called juvenile diabetes affects millions worldwide and is triggered by autoimmunity that causes the immune system to attack and destroys beta cells in the pancreas that make the hormone insulin. As a result, patients must take insulin every day for life. When diabetes is poorly controlled, complications including blindness, amputations and kidney failure can result.
"We hope to be able to manipulate the (immune) system in such a way that this no longer drives the destruction of beta cells, while maintaining protection against infections and tumors," said Dr Joseph A Hedrick, leader of that project. He also noted that the findings might help in fighting other autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
In another intriguing project, J&J's Janssen Biotech unit will use computer microchips designed to simulate functions of human organs to predict which experimental drugs are most likely to be effective and safe in people. The goal is to be able to do more realistic testing of drugs in the laboratory, before they're tested on animals and people, with "organs on chips."