Using an animal model of type 1 diabetes to identify biomarkers of pre-symptomatic disease and treatment efficacy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Pathology


In type 1 diabetes the immune system of an individual selectively destroys the cells in the body that secrete insulin, a hormone which is essential for maintaining glucose levels in the body. This autoimmune process can be going on for several years before sufficient insulin producing cells have been killed to make the person clinically ill. If you could detect those people who were suffering from such an autoimmune condition before they became clinically ill it would be possible to intervene therapeutically to prevent further loss of these very important cells. Such an early intervention would mean that there would be no need to have daily insulin injections and would prevent the development of diabetic complications. Therefore if biomarkers could be detected in blood samples this would represent a significant advance towards a better treatment for type 1 diabetes.

Technical Summary

Type 1 diabetes arises as a result of autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells. It is known that the autoreactive destruction of the beta cells may have been occurring for years before diabetes onset. It would be advantageous to be able to fully identify susceptible individuals and intervene with a tolerogenic protocol before irrevocable beta cell destruction occurs. We propose to use the established NOD mouse model of type 1 diabetes, and specific interventions currently being examined in the Cooke laboratory, to identify biomarkers of underlying pathological processes at the pre-symptomatic stage of the disease. We will determine whether the biomarkers we identify provide a) accurate markers of predisposition to develop diabetes and b) can be used to monitor the success of therapeutic intervention. This would represent a considerable advance in the potential treatment of type 1 diabetes.
Description Biomarkers and Type 1 diabetes 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Biochemistry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We supply the material from diabetes protected NOD mice for biomarker analysis.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Griffin and I have an MRC project grant to study biomarkers associated with Type 1 diabetes
Impact None so far apart from meeting abstracts.
Start Year 2009
Description Mevalonate pathway in inflammation with Kings College London Department of Rheumatology 
Organisation King's College London
Department Department of Academic Rheumatology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is currently being set up but will involve metabolomics
Collaborator Contribution This is currently being set up but will involve supply ofpatient material
Impact Biomarker discovery for arthritic disease
Start Year 2014
Description 2nd Metabolomics Sardinian Scientific School 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 2nd Metabolomics Sardinian Scientific School was aimed at post-grad students new to the field of metabolomics. We gave seminars and workshops in various tools and techniques in metabolomics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016