The lab is a leader in transplantation therapies for diabetes based upon shielding newly developed human insulin producing cells from the immune system. This approach has now reached clinical trials and we continue to develop technology to improve the process.
A second area of investigation in the lab is in preserving islet cell health by mitigating diabetes induced cell stress. In the diabetic setting, insulin producing cells attempt to compensate for increased insulin demands, but this can lead to accumulation of misfolded proteins and cell death. We are investigating proteins which interact with insulin to promote efficient protein folding and preserve islet health.
We identified a pathway which is active in the normal pancreas but which goes awry in pancreatic cancer. Remarkably, restoring the pathway in patient derived tumors cells causes immediate growth arrest and reprogramming toward normal tissue. We developed a screening platform to identify drugs which re-establish the pathway and have evaluated 4000 pharmacologics. The lab is now poised to test the hit compounds in tumors.
Unfortunately, funding for science is inadequate. Yet, time is of the essence because anyone with pancreatic cancer today is worried that they may not be alive next year. Philanthropy could play a key role in speeding progress toward clinical translation of our findings. Please contact me to discuss investing in research through a tax deductible donation to the lab.