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Annual Meeting Cambridge

17. October 2017

INNODIA is running full speed!

Almost 2 years after the official start of its 7-year project, INNODIA participants came together for their second annual meeting in Cambridge, United Kingdom, from September 26-28th. The meeting was organized by the team of Dr. C. Acerini (University of Cambridge). The more than 140 attendants, from academic and clinical institutes, as well as from the Efpia (pharma) companies and the 2 foundations involved in INNODIA gathered for a very intensive meeting in a smooth and positive atmosphere. Importantly, we welcomed the members of the Strategic Advisory board, led by Dr J. Skyler from Miami, the members of the Ethics Advisory Board, led by Dr. P. Bingley, as well as a big delegation of the Patient Advisory Committee.

Over the last year the different aspects/goals of the project have all moved forward at full speed, led by the different work package leads and guided by the INNODIA coordinator Dr. C. Mathieu. Most of the clinical centers have started with recruitment during the past months, and the remaining sites have been initiated or are eagerly waiting for the final approval from their ethics commission to also get started. As such most of the centers are enrolling new onset T1D patients and unaffected family members into the study. The team of Dr. D. Dunger was proud to be able to present that an important milestone of 100 participants has been reached, and thereby further stressed that we do expect an exponential increase in enrolment once all clinical centers have started. In parallel to the initiation of the clinical centers for recruitment into the sample collection, and site visits performed under the lead of Dr. D. Dungers team, accreditation visits of all clinical centers for clinical trial performance have taken place over the last year under the lead of Dr. T. Dannes team, opening the road to an INNODIA platform for clinical trials. Finally, also the EUnPOD initiative, in which pancreatic specimens will be collected from Type 1 diabetic donors, fully in line with the nPOD initiative, has taken shape, and the first T1D pancreatic sample has been collected!

Lots of attention has gone also to securitiy and tracebility of the sample collections and data collected, with the secure building of a central dataware house and eCRF system, led by the team of Dr. S. Brunak.

Having samples from new onset patients and unaffected family members longitudinally collected, will allow to investigate the relationship between changes in beta-cell function, immune profiles, genetic and environmental factors, etc. Protocols and assays have been set up in the different academic laboratories, each of them well chosen for their specific expertise on immune profiling, beta-cell pathology, proteomics, lipidomics, miRNA profiling etc., this all led and coordinated by the team of Dr. M. Peakman and Dr. T. Tree. Selecting such expertise labs was done carefully with the mission that INNODIA should accelerate our understanding of T1D through coordinated studies of the unique clinical samples which are now becoming available for research purposes. These should lead to the delivery of novel biomarkers, for better disease diagnosis and also for testing in appropriate clinical designed trials.

Very interesting were the selected presentations on ‘highlights’ from INNODIA, in which the first scientific results coming from academic immune and beta-cell researchers were presented, led by Dr. M. Peakman and Dr. D. Eizirik. Discovery of the first novel biomarkers for better disease diagnosis or follow-up on response to therapy were presented. Such biomarkers were related to immune cell subsets or markers for beta-cell dysfunction, either measured as circulating factors in the blood or as markers for beta-cell imaging. New findings from these academic centers have resulted already in 8 INNODIA-funded publications, of which 5 collaborative publications between at least 2 partner institutes.

An important aspect of the meeting this year was the attendance of the Patient Advisory Committee members (see also editorial comments in a separate news item by JDRF’s Dr. O. Arnaud), the Strategic Advisory Board (Dr. J. Skyler, Dr. M. Atkinson, Dr. C. Dayan and Dr. M. Goldman), and the Ethics Advisory Board (led by Dr. P. Bingley). Close interactions and discussions between the INNODIA coordination team and the Advisory Boards took place, giving critical and positive feedback on different aspects of INNODIA, which will further improve the smooth running and future goals of the project.

Overall, this second annual meeting, with almost all Principal Investigators attending, but also with many nurses and young scientists (PhDs and postdocs) attending and interacting, resulted in a very fruitful meeting. We believe everyone felt happy after 2 days of working together towards the final goal of INNODIA: a better understanding of T1D, which should hopefully lead to innovative translational approaches to finding a cure for the patients.