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Dr Aleksandar Kostic Previews the Next Steps in Researching a T1D Vaccine


Aleksandar Kostic, PhD, an assistant professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School, outlines what needs to happen next in his research developing a type 1 diabetes (T1D) vaccine.

Next steps in investigating a type 1 diabetes (T1D) vaccine include developing a better understanding of the effects of the vaccine in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice and in human pancreases, said Aleksandar Kostic, PhD, an assistant professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School.


What are the next steps for your research on a type 1 diabetes (T1D) vaccine?

So what we really want to do is now understand whether this is also happening in human T1D. We have had access to 2 or 3 individuals who had T1D and passed away and donated their organs to research. We were able to find in those individuals the presence of poly N-acetyl glucosamine (PNAG) in their pancreases. We've only had access to 1 healthy control pancreas where we were not able to find PNAG. Getting access to these specimens is quite challenging. These things are so precious. But we're working with [the Network of Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes] nPOD now, as well as some other organizations, to try to get a much larger sample and see whether this is, in fact, a statistically significant effect and that whether in humans this is also observed.

The other piece of it that we're trying to understand in much better detail is within the pancreases of NOD mice. What is the general time frame of microbial translocation or microbial fragment translocation into these mice? And how does vaccination with PNAG impact the time frame and maybe the abundance of these microbial fragments in the pancreas to help us better understand how this is happening? Generally, we're trying to build a more comprehensive picture of the immune cells that are infiltrating into the beta cells and in specifically the vaccination, which immune cells now are much less prevalent in beta cells and might be responsible for the protection.

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