Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune diseases that occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin for reasons that are not well understood. People living with Type 1 Diabetes require daily injections of insulin to survive and are at risk of both life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and lifelong health complications. Approximately 1.25 million children and adults in the United Sates have Type 1 Diabetes. An additional 30 million Americans have Type 2 Diabetes, a condition in which the pancreas produces insulin unreliably. The combined national healthcare costs of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes exceed $320 billion a year.
Investigators at the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM) are studying the mechanisms that regulate the development and function of beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin – a key to future treatments for any type of diabetes. Current research is progressing on several fronts. In several collaborating labs, ISCRM teams are:
Behind the multipronged approach to diabetes research is a determination to improve quality of life for millions of people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Right now at ISCRM, Vincenzo Cirulli MD, PhD, is screening for biological factors that could promote the growth of beta cells necessary for insulin production. Dr. Cirulli’s ISCRM colleague Laura Crisa MD, PhD is using a “disease-in-a-dish” model to study how islet cells falter and whether they can be regenerated, and eventually transplanted, into patients.