Current Projects in Pancreas Biology

Genetic Etiology of Type 1 Diabetes
A prominent issue researchers encounter when studying type 1 diabetes is understanding the risks and causes of the disease.   We know that there are several facets that contribute to the development of type I diabetes, including genetics, family history, environment, viral infections, and even geography.  As researchers study these elements further they will gain the knowledge necessary to develop better screening methods.  This will enable doctors to offer preventative measures to patients or develop drugs that will help combat the auto-reactive cells before they wipe out all functional β-cells. 
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The Role of IL-18 Receptor Positive T cell compartments in Type I Diabetes
Presently we are unable to divulge the cause of type I diabetes, making it difficult to target constituents of the disease that may lead to a cure.  Providing an accurate mechanism for the onset of Type 1 diabetes in susceptible individuals could open new avenues for prevention or treatment of the disease.  Looking in both new-onset diabetes patients and diabetic animal models, Dr. Sarvenick’s group has discovered a novel population of T cells that they believe to be involved in disease onset and maintenance. 
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β-cell Regeneration
As Dr. Sarvetnick continues to work on overcoming the autoimmune challenges presented in type 1 diabetes, another team under her leadership is working to understand and manipulate the various processes that govern β-cell revival and regeneration.  Headed by postdoctoral fellow, Nicholas George, PhD, and endocrinologist, Brian Boerner, MD, this project will provide a necessary component to the multi-directional treatment strategy for type 1 diabetes. 
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