A Cell-Based Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a debilitating condition ultimately leading to severe, life-threatening complications that arise as a result of inadequate insulin secretion from the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes results from the destruction of insulin-producing cells by the affected person’s own immune system, requiring multiple daily insulin injections. While there has been much progress in the field of islet transplantation as a potential cure for type 1 diabetes, the limited availability of donor tissue and the requirement for lifelong immune suppression has led researchers to examine other potential methods for replacing insulin. Michael Riedel is investigating the potential to create cells capable of secreting insulin in response to a meal. With the goals of yielding insulin-producing cells, he is working with genes that encode the key proteins that are critical for the formation of pancreatic islets during development. Michael is also exploring another approach that involves looking for novel compounds to create insulin-producing cells and investigating their therapeutic potential. If successful, the creation of insulin-secreting cells could provide an additional source of replacement cells to combat type 1 diabetes.