Our lab has three main projects:
1. Understanding the structure and functions that control insulin secretion within islets.
Our data the suggest that insulin secretion is targeted towards the vasculature. Ongoing projects in the lab are designed to prove this targeting. The work involves advanced imaging techniques, molecular biology and electron microscopy. We use islets from mice and humans to identify key proteins and then test for their role in controlling insulin secretion.
2. UNDERSTANDING THE DEFECTS IN INSULIN SECRETION THAT OCCUR IN DISEASE.
Changes in insulin secretion from beta cells are known to cause disease but despite a lot of work the basis of these changes is unclear. We have new data that shows that in a condition called prediabetes insulin secretion is dramatically upregulated. Using islets from diabetic mice and humans we are aiming to understand the principal mechanisms of control.
3. refining cell-based therapies to cure diabetes.
We are working with Drs James Hudson and Enzo Porello to engineer induced pluripotent stem cells to make them secrete insulin. Our experiments are testing some of the factors we are finding to be important in the control of beta cells in the islet with an aim to enhance the control of insulin secretion. For diabetic patients, cell replacement therapies have the promise, one day, to provide a cure for disease.