Frequency Therapeutics Awarded Grant from JDRF to Generate Glucose-Responsive Insulin-Secreting Cells for Type 1 Diabetes Treatment Using a Small Molecule Approach

Validation of the PCA Regeneration Platform in additional indications supported by JDRF

WOBURN, Mass.--()--Frequency Therapeutics, a biotechnology company spearheading the movement to harness the regenerative potential of target populations of stem cells inside the body, today announced a grant from JDRF, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. The grant, matched by Frequency, will fund research to optimize the company’s Progenitor Cell Activation (PCA) Regeneration platform, which will explore a small molecule approach to convert intestinal stem cells into cells capable of insulin secretion for the treatment of T1D.

“The importance of this JDRF grant, especially in the wake of our recent collaboration announcement with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the U.S. Army, is that it continues to validate the cutting-edge nature of our PCA Regeneration platform,” said David Lucchino, President, Co-founder and CEO of Frequency. “While we remain focused on our clinical stage program in hearing restoration, we are grateful for the validation and expansion of our PCA Regeneration platform to potentially help people with T1D, which provides us with multiple opportunities to build value. We look forward to working with JDRF.”

People with T1D are dependent on external insulin therapy to survive, as their bodies do not produce insulin on their own, and they cannot maintain safe blood glucose levels without treatment. There is currently no biological cure for T1D except in a small subset of individuals who receive islet or pancreas transplantation using immunosuppressive drugs. This research agreement aims to achieve one of JDRF’s key therapeutic goals, exploring beta cell replacement in an effort to achieve insulin independence in people with T1D. The grant will fund Frequency’s research into its PCA Regeneration platform’s ability to stimulate gastrointestinal stem cells to differentiate into insulin-producing beta cells, in an effort to discover and develop new therapies for type 1 diabetes.

“We are encouraged by the promise of a therapy that would convert adult intestinal stem cells into functional insulin-secreting cells using small molecule drugs, which could be a key step in developing successful cell replacement therapies for people with type 1 diabetes,” said Esther Latres, Ph.D., JDRF Director, Research. “This could also help us to overcome several current obstacles in beta cell replacement, including the scarcity of functional human beta cells. Frequency’s PCA Regeneration platform presents a unique approach, and we’re excited about the potential for this type of therapy to improve the health and quality of life for people with T1D.”

The JDRF grant follows Frequency’s recently announced research collaboration with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the U.S. Army to study Frequency’s PCA Regeneration platform in muscle indications. Frequency also recently completed a first-in-human Phase 1 safety study for the company’s lead indication in hearing restoration. The company plans to launch U.S. clinical trials in hearing restoration in 2018.

The terms of the grant agreement were not disclosed.


Frequency’s precise and controlled approach transiently causes Lgr5+ progenitor cells to divide and differentiate, much like what is seen in naturally regenerating tissues such as the skin and intestine. Frequency activates ‘stemness’ through mimicking signals provided by neighboring cells (the stem cell niche) with small molecules, and this proprietary approach is known as the Progenitor Cell Activation (PCA) Regeneration platform. Frequency believes that PCA Regeneration has the potential to yield a whole new category of disease-modifying therapeutics for a wide range of degenerative conditions. To fuel its drug discovery programs, Frequency is leveraging a PCA screening platform using primary human cells, including cochlear progenitor cells and adult human progenitor cells from the GI tract. Potential applications include hearing loss, skin disorders and gastrointestinal diseases.


JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $2 billion in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout the United States and our six international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter: @JDRF.


Frequency Therapeutics develops small molecule drugs to stimulate cells in the body to reverse biological deficits and restore healthy tissue. Through the transitory activation of these cells, Frequency enables disease modification without the complexity of genetic engineering. Our breakthrough therapy uses a proprietary combination of small-molecule drugs that induce dormant progenitor cells to multiply and create new cells. Our platform technology is founded on discoveries in progenitor cell biology by Bob Langer, Sc.D. at MIT and Jeff Karp, Ph.D., at Harvard, with contributions from Xiaolei Yin, Ph.D. and other members of the Karp Lab at Harvard and Brigham & Women's Hospital.


MacDougall Biomedical Communications
Stefanie Tuck or Kari Watson, +1 781-235-3060

Release Summary

Frequency Therapeutics awarded grant from JDRF International to pursue small molecule approach for beta cell replacement to treat type 1 diabetes.


MacDougall Biomedical Communications
Stefanie Tuck or Kari Watson, +1 781-235-3060