Regenerating immune cells to treat diabetes 

Professor F. Susan Wong - Professor of Experimental Diabetes and Metabolism, Cardiff University

Professor Gideon Gross - Professor of Life Sciences, MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute, Kiryat Shmona

Co-funded by JDRF

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. Prof Wong and Gross have already shown in diabetic mice that we can use gene therapy to stop the attacking cells, without affecting other cells that are important for our general immunity.

This project wants to use gene therapy to target as many harmful cells as possible while also reducing the cells that attack the insulin-producing cells.