July 30, 2021
With the aid of a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Kristy Ainslie, Ph.D., will work to develop a long-term treatment for type 1 diabetes.
The four-year grant will support her work, “Formulation to Generate Tolerance Towards Type 1 Diabetes.”
According to the NIH, type 1 diabetes typically occurs in adolescents and affects about 5% of those living with diabetes in the United States. People with type 1 diabetes rely on insulin injections to survive because their bodies do not produce the hormone.
Ainslie, chair of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics, will work with Roland Tisch, Ph.D., from the UNC School of Medicine, to better understand what aspects of formulation impact skewing the immune system away from aberrant autoimmune responses in an effort to develop a long-term treatment for the disease.
“In our work, we propose the use of microparticles to reprogram the immune system’s response against the islet cells by creating antigen specific tolerance to mitigate the harmful autoimmune response,” Ainslie said.
She added that antigen specific tolerance toward type-1 diabetes can potentially provide a long-term cure and eliminate the need for insulin administration.
“This treatment could help patients by retraining their immune system to stop it from attacking the islet cells that make insulin. With the islet cells protected, diabetic patients can make insulin in response to glucose just like non-diabetic individuals,” Ainslie said.