Sheikh Mohamed gives grant to Harvard Stem Cell Institute for diabetes research

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi's global health initiative, Reaching the Last Mile, supports research into disease

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has given a grant to fund research into Type 1 diabetes. Photo: Crown Prince Court Abu Dhabi
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The Harvard Stem Cell Institute has been given a grant by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces to advance research into Type 1 diabetes.

Sheikh Mohamed's global health initiative, Reaching the Last Mile, works to end diseases and supports the development of innovative research and technology. The grant given to the Douglas Melton Laboratory at the prestigious Ivy League university will help fund research into beta-cell replacement therapy, which is at the forefront of potential cures for Type 1 diabetes.

“The promising results we’ve seen with stem cell-derived islet cells could deliver a life-changing therapy for people who suffer from the relentless life-long burden of Type 1 diabetes," said Dr Douglas Melton, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

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If our strategies are successful this will lead to a future where beta-cell therapy becomes the standard treatment for patients with diabetes
Dr Douglas Melton, Harvard Stem Cell Institute

"If our strategies are successful this will lead to a future where beta-cell therapy becomes the standard treatment for patients with diabetes.”

According to the World Health Organisation, about 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and 1.6 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year. Both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes have been steadily increasing over the past few decades.

“In the United Arab Emirates we strongly believe in the value of collaboration and advancement," said Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed, chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court.

“It is only through daring innovation that we can find new solutions to critical issues and help fulfil our commitment to advancing health and improving life for people around the globe.”

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the absence of insulin-producing beta cells, which are destroyed by the immune system through mechanisms that are still not known. While patients can manage diabetes, there is currently no cure.

The first milestone project will be making beta cells that evade immune elimination.

The announcement, made on Tuesday, also said two Emirati research fellows would join the Douglas Melton Lab, with the opportunity to take part in research and work to develop a breakthrough cure for diabetes.

“The opportunity for two Emiratis to join the Melton Lab as research fellows will be a cultural and academic enrichment to all those involved," said Dr Fatima Al Kaabi, from the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Centre.

"We are looking forward to appointing the best individuals from our talented pool of academics, who we hope can help the team accelerate their research in finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.”

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Updated: February 08, 2022, 9:37 AM
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