Researchers at the Eastern Virginia Medical School Strelitz Diabetes Center have been awarded a $1,076,250 grant by the Department of Defense (DoD) Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program to develop new ways of reversing the underlying causes of Type 1 diabetes.
David Taylor-Fishwick, PhD, associate professor of internal medicine and director of the Cell, Molecular and Islet Biology Laboratory, leads the team whose research applies to both regenerative and autoimmune medicine.
"Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune attack that destroys the insulin-producing beta cells, and the body does not automatically regenerate or replace these cells," explains Dr. Taylor-Fishwick. "The unique challenge in reversing Type 1 diabetes is to regenerate the insulin-producing beta cells and to stop the body's autoimmune attack."
Insulin is the hormone that helps the body convert glucose from food into energy. When the beta cells are destroyed, no insulin can be produced. Insulin replacement therapy helps the body maintain normal glucose levels, but doesn't prevent the serious diabetes health problems such as blindness, nerve damage, heart disease and kidney failure.
Dr. Taylor-Fishwick's research on beta cell regeneration has focused on INGAP (Islet Neogenesis Associated Protein), branded as Exsulin, the breakthrough discovery made by Aaron I. Vinik, PhD, MD, director of research at the Strelitz Diabetes Center, and Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg of McGill University. Published trials of Exsulin demonstrated promising results in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients.
The DoD grant will fund the next phase in the team's research finding a way to neutralize the immune system's attack of the beta cells. This immune attack occurs at the onset of diabetes and may continue after Type 1 diabetes has appeared. The benefits of this research may also apply to other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
|Contact: Jina Gaines|
Eastern Virginia Medical School