Diabetes is a chronic, debilitating disease which affects more than 20 million Americans. In diabetes, the body does not produce or properly use insulin. There are generally two types of diabetes—Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is also called autoimmune diabetes, juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes and usually occurs in children or young adults. In Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that make insulin. People with this disease must take insulin in order to stay alive. They must also balance their food intake and exercise. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body still produces some insulin but can’t use it effectively. Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in adults and does not always require insulin. People with either form of diabetes are at greater risk for many serious complications including heart disease, blindness, nerve damage and kidney damage.
International Leadership in Diabetes Research
For the past two decades, BRI has served as a worldwide leader in research to prevent, treat and cure Type 1 diabetes. BRI scientists have accounted for some of the substantial discoveries in the field, including the identification of diabetes susceptibility genes.
Diabetes research at Benaroya Research Institute ranges from new discoveries in the laboratory to developing the most innovative therapies for patients. The Translational Research Program at BRI studies cells that regulate the immune system in order to develop the ability to make these cells from individuals with Type 1 diabetes, and hopes to use these cells in clinical trials to protect the pancreas of children who develop diabetes. In the Diabetes Research Program at BRI, three physician-scientists now conduct a wide range of clinical research immunotherapy trials for individuals recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Can We Intervene in the Disease Process?
A current emphasis of the Diabetes Clinicial Research Unit is intervention studies for preservation of insulin secretion for people with Type 1 diabetes. The goal of these studies is to preserve insulin secretion in individuals newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The persistence of endogenous insulin production has been associated with important clinical outcomes, specifically reduction in severe hypoglycemia and complications, so intervention even after diagnosis is likely to have significant benefit for people with diabetes. Each of the studies is looking at unique ways to disrupt the autoimmune attack. Notably, many of the drugs being tested in autoimmune diabetes have been used successfully to treat other autoimmune disease or cancers.
For more information on Type 1 diabetes research at Benaroya Research Institute, search on the disease below.
Type 1 Diabetes (juvenile diabetes, autoimmune diabetes, insulin-dependent diabetes )
Look for clinical research trials for diabetes.