LJI Professor, Matthias von Herrath, M.D., is exploring the hypothesis that there’s something in the pancreas driving its own destruction in type 1 diabetes. Scientists have found that beta cells draw harmful T cells to the pancreas prior to the onset of clinical signs of diabetes. His lab is testing the theory that there’s something wrong with the beta cells themselves.
One mission of his lab is to unravel the roles of different immune cells, cytokines and other signaling molecules as type 1 diabetes progresses. The team analyzes human pancreas tissues obtained from the Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD), and also human isolated islets. The lab also studies how predisposing genes and environmental factors, such as viral infections, may interact and trigger the disease. Several viruses, mainly from the Enterovirus genus have been considered as potential causal agents for type 1 diabetes.
By approaching type 1 diabetes from several angles, von Herrath and his colleagues hope to unlock the root of many autoimmune diseases.