In the DIL we study the causes of type 1 diabetes (T1D), a common autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system turns against the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Ultimately, the beta cells are destroyed leaving the body unable to regulate blood sugar levels. Patients have to inject themselves daily with insulin to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Many factors - both genetic and environmental - determine whether someone will develop the disease, which is most commonly diagnosed in infants and children but can also be diagnosed in adults.
We are trying to identify some of those genetic factors and the pathways that they are part of and understand why this leads to the immune system mounting a response against beta cells. By understanding the pathways that go wrong, we hope to identify targets for intervening therapeutically and be able to treat and prevent the disease. We use a wide range of approaches in our work, from genetics through to clinical trials testing therapies that aim to slow progression of the disease or prevent it in children who are at high risk of developing the condition. We collaborate with researchers and clinicians in Oxford, the UK and internationally.