The U.S. Senate has approved legislation for a one-year extension of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP)—an initiative that accounts for roughly one-third of all federally funded type 1 diabetes (T1D) research in the U.S. The decision comes on the heels of the March 27 approval of the legislation by the U.S. House of Representatives, and will extend SDP funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the current level of $150 million, as part of the “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.”
With a one-year renewal, SDP-funded researchers will be able to continue promising clinical trials that are leading to improved therapies and ultimately a cure for T1D. T1D is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, rendering millions of Americans dependent on insulin injections and 24/7 vigilance to survive. The SDP has led to groundbreaking discoveries and new treatments that are improving the lives of people with both T1D and type 2 diabetes, demonstrating a strong return on the federal investment.
"JDRF and its volunteers across the nation are working every day to create a world without type 1 diabetes," said Jeffrey Brewer, president and CEO of JDRF. "The renewal of the Special Diabetes Program continues critical funding momentum for groundbreaking diabetes research—an investment that will not only improve the lives and health of millions of Americans, but will save the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars in the long run."
The next step will be for President Obama to sign the legislation.
This latest extension of the SDP, which will run through September 2015, has been a focus of advocacy efforts by JDRF, a charitable supporter of T1D research worldwide. Among other research advances, SDP funding has accelerated the development of artificial pancreas technologies, led to the discovery of a drug that can help reverse vision loss in people with diabetic eye disease and launched a trial to test a therapy with potential to prevent diabetic kidney failure.