U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Disease Topics

The Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases supports basic and clinical research on the etiology, pathogenesis, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diabetes mellitus and its complications; endocrine diseases; osteoporosis; cystic fibrosis and other metabolic disorders, as well as research on basic endocrine and metabolic processes.  Research topics of potential interest to small businesses include, but are not limited to:

I. Sensors and Delivery Devices

  1. Assessment of noninvasive, minimally invasive or implantable sensors for monitoring blood or interstitial fluid glucose for prevention of hypo- and hyperglycemia in diabetic patients.  The NIDDK will give priority to research that has already progressed to an in vivo model or to be clinically tested. 
  2. Integration of glucose sensor and insulin delivery systems to create an artificial pancreas. 
  3. Development of improved insulin delivery methods or devices. 
  4. Development of novel and more accurate nonenzymatic based glucose detection technologies. 
  5. Development of telemedicine approaches that can be incorporated as components/and or adjuvants of an artificial pancreas for better diabetes self management. 
  6. Development of technologies that may promote and facilitate adherence/compliance by users of glucose control devices.

II. Screening Tests,Diagnostics, and Biologic Tools

  1. Development of techniques or products useful for predicting, preventing, or delaying progression of diabetes, including tests for identifying patients at risk and methods of monitoring disease progression. 
  2. Development of diagnostic tools for diabetic foot ulcers. These tests could be used to determine the risk of developing a diabetic foot ulcer or used for choosing treatment strategies. 
  3. Development of diagnostic tools to measure the autonomic neuropathy that develops in people with diabetes. 
  4. Development of clinical measures of oxidative stress, advanced glycation end-products, and chronic inflammation that result from diabetes. 
  5. Development of high-throughput point-of-care technologies (reliable, accurate, cost-effective, highly sensitive, standardized having rapid turnaround time) for autoantibody detection, T cell-subsets auto-reactivity and other immune parameters for autoimmune diabetes diagnosis and follow-up. 
  6. Development of methods to measure changes in the immune status that may be used as markers to follow the immune-modulatory activity and beneficial effect (beta cell mass preservation, reduction of inflammation at the target organ, etc.) of biologic agents tested in clinical trials for the prevention and/or treatment of type 1 diabetes (TD1). 
  7. Development of high throughput assays based on biologic pathways likely involved in the pathogenesis of diabetes and its complications that could be used to screen molecular libraries for novel therapeutic agents. 
  8. Development and validation of surrogate markers to monitor disease progression and potential therapies for diabetic complications. 
  9. Development and validation of tools for use by health care providers/systems to improve diabetes care and prevention. 
  10. Development of techniques and tools to identify islet cell progenitors, methods to predict transplant success with recovered islet preparations, and noninvasive imaging as well as other methods for the in vivo measurement/ evaluation of pancreatic beta cell mass, function or inflammation after transplantation of pancreatic islet/beta cells. 
  11. Development of low-cost/portable point=of=care technologies for diabetes and pre-diabetes diagnosis. 
  12. Development of innovative technologies to predict and prevent hypoglycemia.

III. Interventions and Therapies

Diabetes 

  1. Development of immunomodulation/tolerance induction strategies to prevent or slow progression of type 1 diabetes. 
  2. Development of new therapies or devices to prevent and treat diabetic foot ulcers. 
  3. Development of new therapies to correct the underlying metabolic defects that result from diabetes, such as reactive oxygen species production and glycation of proteins. 
  4. Development of methods that protect islet grafts after transplantation, including evaluating alternative transplantation sites, minimizing the use of immunosuppression through immunomodulation/tolerance induction or immune-isolation/encapsulation of the graft from the host immune system, or supporting the use of single donors for transplantation. 
  5. Development of methods that expand the number of human islets during culture, while still retaining appropriate functional islet characteristics and the ability to be successfully transplanted. 
  6. Development of methods utilizing replenishable cell sources, especially stem cells that produce functional islet like cells/tissues that can be successfully transplanted. 
  7. Development of more reproducible methods that improve yield/viability/function of islets prior to transplantation and the engraftment and long term function of islets after transplantation. 
  8. Development of educational or psychosocial approaches that increase adherence to recommended diabetes treatment regimens or that reduce co-morbidities and complications (e.g., depression or foot ulcers). 
  9. Development of novel technologies that may facilitate self-management of diabetes and adherence to treatment. 
  10. Development of new, implantable and easy-to-replace technologies that may mimic the beneficial effect of gastric bypass/bariatric surgery for the treatment of diabetes without the need of a major invasive surgical procedure. 

Other Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders 

  1. Identification of new ligands for previously unclassified (orphan) nuclear receptors and development of partial agonists or antagonists with therapeutic potential for diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis, hormone-dependent cancers, and for conditions such as obesity. 
  2. Development of Selective Receptor Modulators (SRMs) with tissue specificity and profiles that provide beneficial effects without the side effects secondary to therapies based on naturally occurring hormones. 

IV. Genetic Testing and Genetic Therapies

  1. Development of improved methods to perform diagnostic, population, and newborn screening or prenatal testing for genetic metabolic diseases. 
  2. Improvements in the construction of gene therapy vectors to increase transduction efficiency, level and duration of expression, and to improve targeting. 
  3. Development of improved methods of manufacturing gene therapy vectors that are scalable and improve titer and bioactivity of the vectors. 
  4. Development of new vector systems that improve the ability to transduce nondividing cells such as hematopoietic stem cells, neurons, hepatocytes, or epithelial cells. 
  5. Development of techniques to achieve efficient homologous integration or site-specific integration of introduced genes.