JDRF Partners with InnoCentive to Launch a Challenge for the Treatment of Diabetes

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Waltham, Mass.—September 8, 2011—The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the worldwide leader for research to cure, treat, and prevent type 1 diabetes, and InnoCentive, Inc., the pioneer in open innovation and crowdsourcing, today announced a $100,000 Challenge calling for innovative ways to approach the discovery and development of a glucose-responsive insulin drug as a means to treat insulin-dependent diabetes. The Challenge is open to the public and can be found on the InnoCentive website at https://www.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/9932818.

JDRF is harnessing InnoCentive’s Challenge Platform and Global Solver Community to uncover solutions for a transformative and sophisticated insulin drug for patients with diabetes, to improve glucose control, decrease or eliminate the need to test or monitor blood glucose levels, and reduce their chances of short- and long-term diabetic complications. Further background on the Challenge can be found on the InnoCentive website: https://www.innocentive.com/help-jdrf-combat-diabetes.

Through this challenge, JDRF’s ultimate goal is to discover a glucose-responsive insulin drug that would work only when the body needs it. Glucose-responsive insulin would deliver the precise amount of insulin needed in response to circulating glucose levels and to control and maintain normal blood glucose levels throughout a daily routine with once-daily or less frequent dosing in people with diabetes.

“Today, insulin treatment requires diligent monitoring and burdensome administration, often several times a day, every day.  This remains the only way to regulate blood sugar levels for the millions of individuals with insulin-dependent diabetes worldwide.  Although research has propelled the development of better and faster-acting insulins, the disease is still hard to control because of the way insulin is administered to patients,” said Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., assistant Vice President of Treatment Therapies at JDRF.

“What we need is sophisticated insulin that will take the guesswork out of managing diabetes by developing a novel insulin that works in the same way insulin works in people without diabetes,” Dr. Kowalski continued. By fostering novel approaches from diverse problem Solvers within and outside the diabetes field, we hope this Challenge with InnoCentive will help speed progress toward the development of glucose-responsive insulin—progress urgently needed by people with diabetes.”

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, causing dependence on injected or pumped insulin for life. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes, as well as some people with  insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes, must currently test their blood sugar levels and administer insulin through injections or a pump, sometimes multiple times every day. Yet even with that intensive care, today’s insulin treatments are sub-optimal, and blood sugar levels are often too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia), resulting in life-threatening complications such as kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation.

Hundreds of millions of people in the world are dependent on insulin (both type 1 and type 2 diabetes). Diabetes represents a major health risk factor and is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Furthermore, it presents a serious economic issue. Global healthcare expenditures to treat and prevent diabetes and its complications were estimated to be at least $376 billion in 2010 (1).

“JDRF is an organization that recognizes the importance of innovation in the healthcare industry,” said Dwayne Spradlin, president and CEO of InnoCentive. “This approach of looking beyond traditional researchers to gain new insights, ideas, and solutions illustrates their commitment to finding a better way to treat diabetes. We are excited to be partnering with JDRF finding new ways to enhance the quality of life for patients while helping patients better manage their disease.”

In recent months, InnoCentive’s unique approach to problem solving has led to numerous healthcare solutions, including the identification of a biomarker for ALS, a new delivery method for folic acid to women in third world countries, and a new approach to encourage community behavior to help chronically ill teens manage their own health.

This Challenge is open to anyone with a solution that fits the published criteria, and requires only a written proposal. Submissions for this Challenge will be accepted through November 9, 2011.

The winning solution from this Challenge could be further developed into a second phase, named the preclinical proof of principle “Validation phase.” This second phase would require a detailed research plan proposal, and could offer the winning Solver(s) the opportunity to become a member(s) of the team created to put the winning solution into practice.

About JDRF

JDRF is the worldwide leader for research to cure type 1 diabetes (T1D). It contributes to the global agenda for diabetes research, and is the largest charitable funder and advocate of diabetes science worldwide.

The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. T1D is an autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults suddenly, and can be fatal. Until a cure is found, people with T1D have to test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin injections multiple times or use a pump—each day, every day of their lives. And even with that intensive care, insulin is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent its potential complications, which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation.
Since its founding in 1970 by parents of children with T1D, JDRF has awarded more than $1.5 billion to diabetes research, including $107 million last year. More than 80 percent of JDRF’s expenditures directly support research and research-related education. For more information, please visit www.jdrf.org.

About InnoCentive

InnoCentive is the open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer that enables organizations to solve their key problems by connecting them to diverse sources of innovation including employees, customers, partners, and the world’s largest problem solving marketplace. InnoCentive’s proven Challenge Driven Innovation methodology, community of millions of problem Solvers, and cloud-based technology platform combine to fundamentally transform the economics of innovation and R&D through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. Leading commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations such as Eli Lilly, Life Technologies, NASA, nature.com, Popular Science, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Economist partner with InnoCentive to solve problems and innovate faster and more cost effectively than ever before.


  1. International Diabetes Federation: Diabetes Atlas, 4th Edition, 2010 (http://www.idf.org)

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Wazoku is an innovation SaaS business that helps some of the world’s biggest organizations to innovate at scale. Whether it’s making the most of your employee's ideas, identifying new partners to collaborate with, or exploring the boundless potential of open innovation – or all three! – Wazoku makes innovation happen.