There is extensive research underway around the world in three main areas relating to type 1 diabetes -- beta cells, T-cells, and Tregs.
- Beta cells make and release insulin, a hormone that controls the level of glucose in the blood.
- T-cells belong to a group of white blood cells known as lymphocytes, and play a central role in cell-mediated immunity.
- Regulatory T cells (sometimes known as suppressor T cells) are a specialized subpopulation of T cells that act to suppress activation of the immune system and thereby maintain immune system homeostasis and tolerance to self-antigens.
Instead of focusing on one area, the Brehm Coalition scientists are working on novel, multi-year scientific goals that are broken down into smaller collaborative projects between the immunologists and beta cell biologists.
- Band the Coalition PIs together to explore dual (or multiple) pathways combining immunology and beta cell biology, addressing multiple factors, in a closely collaborative manner, as though in one lab.
- Immunology Pathways focusing on:
- Eliminating or conditioning T-Cells that mount the autoimmune attack on the beta cells through development of a vaccine
- Designing a Treg cell that can moderate the actions of the T-Cells
- Beta Cell Biology focusing on:
- Finding factors that promote beta cell differentiation and survival.
- Discovering reasons for failure of the cells as well as ways to cause precursor cells to differentiate into beta-like cells that produce insulin.
- Seeking to derive beta cells from clonal precursors as well as beta cells that may be regenerating in the pancreas after genetic or physiological suppression.
- Structure the Pathways enough to monitor but not so rigidly as to be dominated by a single thread.
- Foster side studies by associates to explore the boundaries.
- Target a combination therapy solution that could be both safer and earlier.