Type 1 Diabetes Investigators—Aided by JDRF Research Project—Are First to Identify “Killer” T Cells within Human Islets

Researchers recently demonstrated for the first time a direct association between human beta cell destruction and CD8 T cells, which are cells that play an important role in the body’s immune system. This autoimmune “attack” is a hallmark of T1D and it results in the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. In their investigation, the researchers used human tissue samples from the pancreases of T1D organ donors obtained through nPOD, a JDRF collaborative research project. This new study provides evidence that CD8 T cells are present in the islets of the pancreas that contain beta cells. These findings are important for future research on preserving beta-cell function and establishing biomarkers for therapies for T1D.