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Understanding the Type 1 autoimmune attack

Project summary

Molecular evolution of coupled translation and splicing in regulating allele-specific proinsulin expression

Dr Ivor Vorechovsky’s PhD student aims to understand the complex cellular interactions involved in the onset of Type 1 diabetes. In time, this understanding could help in the design of treatments to help the immune system build a tolerance to insulin early on in life.

Background to research

Insulin is a key target of the immune attack that destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and causes Type 1 diabetes. Changes to the gene that codes for proinsulin (the precursor to insulin) are known to increase the risk of Type 1 diabetes, but the exact mechanisms involved in this process are poorly understood. Dr Igor Vorechovsky’s team have recently identified key genetic changes that effect the production of insulin, and the molecular pathways that they affect.

Research aims

A PhD student supervised by Dr Vorechovsky will study changes within the gene that codes for proinsulin and their effect on the complex chemical pathways within cells that are involved in the development of Type 1 diabetes.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

This study will provide a much clearer understanding of the role of genetic changes and associated molecular mechanisms that increase the risk of Type 1 diabetes. Such understanding could contribute to the development of new therapies aimed at helping the immune system build a tolerance to insulin early on in life and thus preventing Type 1 diabetes.

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