JDRF researchers in the US have found a protein that can protect insulin-producing beta cells from the immune system, potentially paving the way for beta cell transplants that don’t require anti-rejection drugs. Professor Mark Poznansky and his team at Massachusetts General Hospital had been studying the protein, known as CXCL12, for many years because of its role in the immune system. It has a repellent effect that drives immune cells away from the area where they are produced so that they can fight infection in the rest of the body.
If the work continues to prove successful, it could be used alongside other beta cell research to generate large numbers of implantable, insulin-producing cells that are kept safe from the immune system. This new research could even benefit the ongoing JDRF and Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance (DIRA) funded project “Nano Versus Micro Enscapsulation for Islet Transplantation”, currently taking place at Kings Hospital London. This research project aims to look for a new way to give people new insulin producing beta cells and to replace the ones that have been destroyed by the immune system using nanotechnology. Dr Aileen King of King’s college, London will be in Cork next month at a public meeting organised by DIRA to update the Irish audience on this project.
The aim of the meeting is to update the diabetes community on the current type 1 diabetes research landscape in Ireland and the UK. On the evening an overview of the current Irish type 1 diabetes research landscape will be given by Dr Maeve Durkin, Consultant Endocrinologist, Bons Secours Hospital, Cork. Also speaking on the night is Prof Catherine Godson of the Conway Institute & School of Medicine, University College Dublin. She will speak on ‘The JDRF Genetics of Diabetic Nephropathy’ project, a collaboration project by JDRF and UCD. Previous research has indicated that genetic factors play a role in the risk of developing diabetic nephropathy, but scientists do not yet have a full picture of the specific genes involved. This project aims to get a clearer picture of the genes involved. This project includes research teams from 7 countries around the globe.
The research meeting will take place on May 14th at 7:30pm in the Imperial Hotel Cork. The evening, which is free to attend, presents a rare opportunity for you to find out first-hand what is going on in the world of diabetes research. Refreshments will be available and there will be ample opportunity to ask questions and engage with our expert speakers. If you have an interest in diabetes research and its future then this is an evening not to be missed.
For more information see www.diabeteireland.ie/events or call 01 842 8118.