Modifying the body's immune system to help treat Type 1 diab
In people living with Type 1 diabetes, their immune system can malfunction, causing it to attack itself. The immune system is a tightly controlled defense mechanism that ensures the well-being of individuals in an environment full of infections. Type 1 diabetes develops when the immune system misidentifies the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as infections and destroys them. Normally, once a perceived danger or threat is eliminated, the immune system's command-and-control mechanism kicks in to eliminate any rogue cells. However, if this mechanism fails, diseases such as Type 1 diabetes can manifest.

Diabetes affects the body's ability to produce or use insulin, a hormone which helps regulate how blood sugar is used in the body. People living with Type 1 diabetes do not make insulin, and therefore are unable to control their blood sugar levels. That loss of control can lead to life-threatening complications such as heart disease, kidney damage and eye damage.

A type of apoptosis occurs when a molecule called FasL interacts with another molecule called Fas on rogue immune cells, and it causes them to die. Research team pioneered a technology that enabled the production of a novel form of FasL and its presentation on transplanted pancreatic islet cells or microgels to prevent being rejected by rogue cells. Following insulin-producing pancreatic islet cell transplantation, rogue cells mobilize to the graft for destruction but are eliminated by FasL engaging Fas on their surface. FasL microgels induce immune acceptance of islet allografts in nonhuman primates.