January 23, 2020
Precision medicine for type 1 diabetes

Precision medicine for type 1 diabetes

[MUSIC PLAYING] My name is Michael Brehm. I’m an associate professor
here at the UMass Med school. I’ve actually been at UMass
for over 20 years now. I started as a
postdoctoral fellow. And I was able to
rise through the ranks and be able to enter
the tenure track here in the faculty at UMass. I actually have a
personal connection with type 1 diabetes. And that really
comes down to, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes
when I was in graduate school. So I had to basically learn
how to manage the disease state of type 1
diabetes as I was learning how to become a
scientist in graduate school. So it was a very
interesting time. And I learned a lot about both
biology and autoimmune disease. And as I started to establish
my own independent research laboratory, I really became
interested in developing systems where we could
ask basic questions about the human
immune system and more specifically, about
human autoimmune disease. Right now, we’re
actually, I think, at really the edge of
a very exciting time in using these model systems. We’ve completely
optimized these mice to accept human immune
systems and pancreatic tissues in such a way that they
all stay functional and they’re all
optimally engrafted. And through a number
of collaborations, we’re actually taking cells
from diabetic patients and introducing those
into the mouse models. So really, for
the first time, we can study how a human immune
system from a diabetic patient is actually interacting with
the diabetic individual’s own pancreatic beta
cells, those cells that are making insulin and releasing
the insulin in the environment to control blood glucose levels. Ultimately, we would love to
see these models transition to what we call a personalized
medicine approach, where what we learn about the
functionality in vivo could be then applied
back to the patient. We could use this model to
test specific therapeutics, test responses to drugs, to
therapies, and make it more of a personalized approach. We’re not there yet. But that’s the
ultimate goal, to be able to take an individuals
own immune system and pancreas and study ways we can slow
down that autoimmune attack on the pancreas.

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