Professor Susan Wong, Cardiff University
Professor Gideon Gross, MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute
One in twelve people has diabetes. It is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Insulin lets glucose from the food we eat pass from the blood stream into the cells in the body to produce energy. Not being able to produce insulin or use it effectively leads to raised glucose levels in the blood. Over the long-term high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by an auto-immune reaction where the body’s defence system attacks the cells that produce insulin. The reason this occurs is not fully understood. Professors Wong and Gross have already shown in diabetic mice that gene therapy can be used to stop the attacking cells, without affecting other cells that are important for our general immunity.
In this project, the researchers harness a genetic device they developed, enabling them to target specifically and selectively photogenic T cells of a given specificity. The researchers hope that by being able to target the damaging cells, they will be able to prevent diabetes