Scott King Talks to JDCA About the Islet Sheet
December 20, 2011
The Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance (JDCA) blog has published an interview with Scott R. King, president of Islet Sheet Medical and co-inventor of the Islet Sheet therapy for type 1 diabetes. JDCA is a coalition formed to unite donors in pressing for a “practical cure” for type 1 by the year 2025. Hanuman Medical Foundation, which supports the Islet Sheet research, has been in discussions with JDCA about goals and approaches the two organizations share.
Scott King was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1978. In the interview, he recounts his background as a scientist turned investment analyst, author of the first report to track investment in the diabetes industry. “I saw that there was a possibility for money to be made, and that finding grants might be better suited by investment ventures,” he says. “My two interests turned into a hybrid—to find a new therapy for type 1 diabetes using investor money.” King eventually left Wall Street to pursue his chosen path toward healing himself and others.
Anyone who looks closely at diabetes research quickly observes that promises are plentiful but real progress painfully slow. JDCA seeks to leverage pressure by major donors on the research community to focus on work that will directly improve life for people with T1D in the short term. Investigating how the large diabetes charities direct funding, it found that the most support goes to academic research that has little chance of achieving a practical cure by a targeted date. In fact, only about 10 percent of current clinical trials are truly focused on a type 1 cure, JDCA found.
Like so many donors, JDCA founder Brian G. Kelly is the parent of a child with T1D. Kelly says that grant making by the large charities “lacks performance measures and funds many efforts not intended to provide a cure.” Using a Wall Street investment model, his goal for JDCA is to provide “independent, objective-based analysis of the charitable universe so that donors can … direct the charitable organizations towards their desire: a practical cure for T1D.”
Scott King’s team is on track to bring the Islet Sheet therapy into human use in a relatively few years, making this research of keen interest to JDCA. The Islet Sheet inventors are collaborating with experts in islet transplantation and metabolic science on a technology that “encapsulates” islets of Langerhans in a micro-thin membrane. This “bioartificial pancreas” has passed all research hurdles so far and is about to be tested in large animals, the precursor to clinical trials. Hanuman Medical Foundation, seeing the promise of this therapy to vastly improve the lives of T1D patients, stepped in to make sure the project is adequately funded.
Says John D. Golenski, the foundation’s executive director, “We at Hanuman recognize a kindred point of view at JDCA. Their efforts to independently analyze the philanthropic landscape for type 1, and to mobilize donors, are vitally needed. We support a shift in major funding toward research that doesn’t just explore far-off scenarios for preventing T1D, but takes a straight path toward meaningful solutions for people with established type 1 disease, in the now.”
Asked by the interviewer if he believes the Islet Sheet research can meet JDCA’s definition of a practical cure—and could it meet a 2025 timeframe?—Scott King replied: “Yes, absolutely.”
Learn more about Hanuman Medical Foundation.
Get details of the Islet Sheet Project.
Download a PDF of the JDCA interview with Scott King.
Contact Scott King at Islet Sheet Medical.