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City of Hope marshals $50 million toward Type 1 diabetes cure

A general view of atmosphere at the City of Hope’s Spirit of Life Gala, honoring UMG's Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge at the Santa Monica Civic on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision for City of Hope/AP Images)
Matt Sayles/Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
This file photo shows a general view of the atmosphere at the City of Hope’s November 2015 Spirit of Life Gala. The independent research center on Monday announced a plan — and $50 million in funding — to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes within six years.

City of Hope has an ambitious new goal: Find a cure for Type 1 diabetes in the next six years.

The independent research center, which also studies and treats cancer, announced its plan Monday. They've got a good start, too, thanks to more than $50 million they've received in private funding.

Type 1 diabetes causes the immune system to attack cells that make insulin. It affects 1 in 200 people in the United States.

The key to a cure will lie in understanding what causes the disease, according to Dr. Bart Roep, director of City of Hope's research team. From there, researchers can begin to develop therapies, which can vary from person to person.

"[It's] something we call personalized medicine or precision medicine, which is very much in vogue in cancer. That means we need to understand where patients differ and then tailor the immune therapies to their specific needs," Roep said.

The funding comes from the Wanek family, which owns Ashley Furniture, and anonymous donors, according to City of Hope. 

The Waneks have donated to the center for about 20 years, but this was the first time they've specified how money should be used.