DRI and Global Collaborators Build Upon Revolutionary Technique

Miami, FL  (July 20, 2011) – Researchers at the Diabetes Research Institute and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and scientists from the Rolf Luft Research Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, have recently published a pioneering study titled, “High resolution, noninvasive longitudinal live imaging of immune responses,” in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).  This comes on the heels of last week’s announcement that three DRI research studies were featured on the covers of three prestigious medical journals, Nature MedicineCell Metabolism and Science Translational Medicine.

The study builds on their earlier work using the “living window.”  It establishes the versatility of this innovative model, not only to study islet physiology, but also to study and characterize immune responses in unprecedented detail.

Using a highly sophisticated multi-laser microscope, researchers were able to observe transplanted islets within a “chamber” of a mouse eye and follow the same islets in the same mouse over extended periods of time. In their previous research published in Nature Medicine in 2008, the group was able to see how islets developed nerve and blood supply. In this study, our researchers, for the first time, were able to observe – in real time – the immune responses against transplanted islets, showing how immune cells attack, infiltrate, and reject the transplanted insulin-producing cells. The team was also able to identify specific subsets of immune cells involved in islet rejection and track their unusual movement patterns.  
Based on this work, we now are studying autoimmune responses against islets in animal models with type 1 diabetes. We also have the ability to evaluate existing and new anti-rejection drugs given locally to see how effective they are at preventing immune rejection with minimal or no systemic side effects. 
The study was led by Midhat H. Abdulreda, Ph.D., and Gaetano Faleo, Ph.D., in the laboratories of professors Per-Olof Berggren, Ph.D., and Antonello Pileggi, M.D., Ph.D., at the DRI, in collaboration with professors Alejandro Caicedo, Ph.D., and Victor L. Perez, M.D., from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. This study is a true representation of the collaborative efforts of the different groups within the DRI and Karolinska Institutet.

The Diabetes Research Institute leads the world in cure-focused research. As the largest and most comprehensive research center dedicated to curing diabetes, the DRI is aggressively working to shrink the timeline toward the discovery of a biological cure for this disease.  Having already shown that diabetes can be reversed through islet transplantation, the DRI is building upon these promising outcomes by bridging cell-based therapies with emerging technologies. The Diabetes Research Institute was created for one reason – to cure diabetes – which is and will continue to be its singular focus until that goal is reached. For the millions of people affected by diabetes, the DRI is the best hope for a cure.


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