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Immunobiology

Dr. Serwold at work

These laboratories aim to elucidate the immunological mechanisms underlying type 1 diabetes, and exploit the resultant knowledge to develop novel disease therapies.

The NOD mouse model, which spontaneously develops an autoimmune disease strikingly similar to human type 1 diabetes, is employed to investigate the immunology and genetics of leukocyte invasion into the pancreatic islets and the consequent destruction of β cells. Engineered mouse models are also used extensively to highlight particular facets of pathophysiology.

There are many collaborative human studies aimed at developing methods to better predict disease initiation and to monitor its progression or reversal. The Lipes lab studies relationships between diabetes, cardiac function, and autoimmunity. Pilot clinical trials to prevent, halt or monitor type 1 diabetes are currently in progress.

This section’s efforts constitute a broad bench-to-bedside-back-to-bench approach, and exploit a number of cutting-edge technologies.

Recent “highpoints”:

• Determined that lymphomagenesis requires expression of both rearranged T cell receptor (TCR)α and TCRβ genes, indicating a critical role for TCR signaling. PNAS 2010.

• Development of noninvasive methods to visualize pancreatic islet cells in type 1 diabetes by visualizing islet inflammation.  Novel non-invasive imaging opens techniques to follow type 1 diabetes progression and potential of immuno-modulatory agents to clear insulitis. JCI 2011.

• Discovered a new form of autoimmune heart disease in mice involving impaired thymic tolerance to alpha-myosin, which appears to also be a cause of cardiac problems in humans. JCI 2011.

Page last updated: October 24, 2014