Modifying the Body's Immune System to Help Treat Type 1 Diabetes
In a new study, a team of researchers from the University of Missouri, Georgia Tech and Harvard University has demonstrated the successful use of a novel Type 1 diabetes treatment in a large animal model. Their approach involves transplanting insulin-producing pancreas cells -- called pancreatic islets -- from a donor to a recipient, without the need of long-term immunosuppressive drugs. In people living with Type 1 diabetes, their immune system can malfunction, causing it to attack itself, said Haval Shirwan, a professor of child health and molecular microbiology and immunology in the MU School of Medicine, and one of the study's lead authors. "The immune system is a tightly controlled defense mechanism that ensures the well-being of individuals in an environment full of infections," Shirwan said. "Type 1 diabetes develops when the immune system misidentifies the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as infections and destroys them.