Translational approaches to disease modifying therapy of type 1 diabetes: an innovative approach towards understanding and arresting type 1 diabetes.


Start Date
End Date
IMI2 - Call 1
Grant agreement number

Type of Action: 
RIA (Research and Innovation Action)

IMI Funding
17 630 000
EFPIA in kind
12 745 192
Associated Partners
5 555 531
633 000
Total Cost
36 563 723


Type 1 diabetes affects 17 million people globally and there is no cure; instead, patients must inject themselves with insulin daily and continually check their blood sugar levels to control their condition. The goal of the INNODIA project is to advance our understanding of type 1 diabetes and address the lack of tools and technologies that will allow clinicians to predict, evaluate and prevent the onset and progression of type 1 diabetes. For patients, this would mean the ability to predict the rate at which their disease will progress. The knowledge and tools generated by the project will help researchers to optimise the design of clinical trials of treatments for preventing and curing this debilitating disease. The project has set up a patient advisory committee to ensure the work is in line with patients’ needs.

Achievements & News

INNODIA team adds piece to type 1 diabetes puzzle
September 2018

An international team of scientists has identified the molecules that trigger the immune system in people with type 1 diabetes. The scientists hope that their findings will aid in the development of vaccines to prevent and treat the disease.### The work, funded in part by IMI through the INNODIA project, is published in the journal Cell Metabolism. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease. It occurs when immune cells called T lymphocytes attack the pancreatic beta cells, which are responsible for the production of the hormone insulin. To make up for the loss of these cells, people with type 1 diabetes have to inject themselves with insulin to manage their blood sugar levels. In this study, the researchers analysed the molecules on the surface of the pancreatic beta cells and how the T lymphocytes respond to them. They found that in both healthy people and diabetes patients, T lymphocytes recognised these molecules when they encountered them in the blood. However, in diabetes patients, the immune cells also recognised them in the pancreas. The team will use this new-found knowledge to develop vaccines to prevent and treat type 1 diabetes. However, while conventional vaccines seek to boost the immune response, the aim here will be to neutralise it.

Study sheds new light on mechanisms behind type 1 diabetes
March 2018

Scientists from the IMI project INNODIA have shed new light on the role of white blood cells and the thymus in the development of type 1 diabetes. The work is published in the journal Science Immunology. ###Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system destroys the pancreatic beta cells responsible for producing insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. The immune cells that attack the beta cells are a sub-group of white blood cells called CD8+ T lymphocytes. T lymphocytes are created in the bone marrow and pass through an organ called the thymus before entering the blood stream. Scientists thought that the thymus presented T lymphocytes with fragments of proteins similar to those found in the beta cells of the pancreas; T lymphocytes that recognise the beta cell protein fragments are destroyed. They also thought that in people with type 1 diabetes, this process does not work properly, and the thymus allows auto-immune T lymphocytes that respond to beta cells to pass into the blood stream. However, in this latest study, scientists found that these auto-immune CD8+ T lymphocytes are found in similar numbers in the blood of both healthy people and people with diabetes. However, the team did find higher levels of the T lymphocytes in the pancreas of people with diabetes. The team believes that healthy people may be able to control these auto-immune T lymphocytes thanks to regulatory T lymphocytes. People with diabetes may lack this ability to control the auto-immune T lymphocytes; furthermore, if their pancreas is inflamed, this may make the beta cells even more ‘visible’ to the autoimmune T cells.

INNODIA recruits first patients for diabetes study
December 2016

The INNODIA project has recruited the first patient in a major clinical study of type 1 diabetes. The goal of INNODIA is to improve our understanding of type 1 diabetes and so pave the way for the development of novel treatments to prevent and cure it. In the new study, scientists will collect blood samples and data from people just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and their relatives.### They will then follow the evolution of the disease in the study participants. ‘This way we will be able to better understand the relationship between changes in beta cell function, immune profiles, genetic and environmental factors and their role in the onset of the disease,’ says INNODIA coordinator Chantal Mathieu of the University of Leuven in Belgium. Patients were heavily involved in the design of the study. ‘Listening to the patient’s voice and following their advice was crucial in setting up this effort,’ said Olivier Arnaud of JDRF International. Looking to the future, the project will open further study centres in Europe, giving more patients the opportunity to take part. In a video, diabetes patient and INNODIA Patient Advisory Committee member Kyle Rose explains: ‘These [studies] are what are going to allow new therapies, new drugs to be developed so that we can all lead healthier lives as people with diabetes. It can really make a difference.’

INNODIA video follows the journey of a blood sample through the project

In 2019, IMI launched a contest among its projects to create a short, simple mobile video. The winning entry came from diabetes project INNODIA. Through the video, viewers meet the scientists involved in the project and follow the journey of a blood sample as the team processes and analyses it in their quest to learn more about type 1 diabetes. ###The video shows a sample arriving at one of the project’s laboratories where the white blood cells are extracted and subjected to tests that reveal the white blood cells involved in diabetes. The results are entered in a database along with results from other labs across Europe. Meanwhile, cells not needed for the initial experiment are stored for future use.

Participants Show participants on map

EFPIA companies
  • Eli Lilly and Company Limited, Basingstoke, United Kingdom
  • Glaxosmithkline Research And Development LTD., Brentford, Middlesex, United Kingdom
  • Novo Nordisk A/S, Bagsvaerd, Denmark
  • Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GMBH, Frankfurt / Main, Germany
Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups
  • Academisch Ziekenhuis Leiden, Leiden, Netherlands
  • Centre Hospitalier De Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • Hannoversche Kinderheilanstalt, Hannover, Germany
  • Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen Deutsches Forschungszentrum Fuer Gesundheit Und Umwelt GMBH, Neuherberg, Germany
  • Institut National De La Sante Et De La Recherche Medicale, Paris, France
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  • King'S College London, London, United Kingdom
  • Kobenhavns Universitet, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Medizinische Universitat Graz, Graz, Austria
  • Oslo Universitetssykehus Hf, Oslo, Norway
  • Oulun Yliopisto, Oulu, Finland
  • Region Hovedstaden, Hilleroed, Denmark
  • Slaski Uniwersytet Medyczny W Katowicach, Katowice, Poland
  • Stichting Katholieke Universiteit, Nijmegen, Netherlands
  • Technische Universitaet Dresden, Dresden, Germany
  • Universita Degli Studi Di Siena, Siena, Italy
  • Universita Degli Studi Gabriele D'Annunzio Di Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy
  • Universita Di Pisa, Pisa, Italy
  • Universitaet Ulm, Ulm, Germany
  • Universite De Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • University of Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles, Bruxelles, Belgium
  • Univerza V Ljubljani, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized companies (<€500 m turnover)
  • Univercell Biosolutions SAS, Toulouse, France
Associated partners
  • Jdrf International, New York, United States
  • The Leona M. And Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, New York, United States


Project coordinator
Chantal Mathieu
Project leader
Anke Schulte