A Novel Way to Address Autoimmunity in Type 1 Diabetes

JDRF-funded researchers are developing an oral vaccine to control the autoimmune response that causes type 1 diabetes. The unique approach is being pioneered by the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Researchers there, led by Michael Czech, are using hollow “yeast shells” to carry proteins and other agents that alter the behavior of immune cells in the stomach. If effective, the vaccine will retrain the immune system to tolerate the insulin-producing beta cells that are mistakenly targeted and destroyed in type 1 diabetes.

The novel strategy is based on a promising new approach for silencing inflammatory reactions associated with the immune system. JDRF is funding the UMass researchers to apply this novel technology to benefit people with type 1 diabetes. Dr. Czech and his team are testing their hypotheses in mice.