Furthering our understanding of the autoimmune attack in type 1 diabetes

Scientific title: Role of the autoantigen Tetraspanin-7 in Type 1 diabetes
Principal Investigator: Dr Kerry McLaughlin
Institution: University of Oxford
Project duration: 01/06/2016 – 29/02/2020

Kerry McLaughlin

Objective: Dr McLaughlin and her team are focusing on one of the five specific immune cells which are present in type 1 diabetes and are thought to participate in the immune attack, these are known as autoantibodies. Antibodies are produced by the immune system to seek out dangerous invaders, or damaged ‘self’ cells but autoantibodies are antibodies that, for unknown reasons, attack certain healthy ‘self’ cells, with sometimes severe consequences. The presence in an individual of the autoantibodies being studied by Dr McLaughlin indicates that there is an ongoing autoimmune response in the pancreatic beta cells and they can be detected before someone develops the symptoms of type 1.

During her postdoctoral studies Dr McLaughlin identified a protein produced by pancreatic cells called Tetraspanin-7. This project aims to determine the frequency of autoantibodies that target Tetraspanin-7 in newly diagnosed people and those that are at risk of developing type 1 to determine its usefulness as a predictor of type 1.

A full understanding of the role of Tetraspanin-7 will provide further understanding of how the autoimmune destruction of beta cells occurs and will open up the possibility of designing immune intervention therapies to prevent the autoimmune attack of Tetraspanin-7 occurring.

Categories: Cure, Prevent, Autoimmunity

Poster of Kerry McLaughlin's project