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Our Strategies to Prevent and Cure Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)

Type 2 diabetes means the body does not use insulin properly. Over time it can no longer make enough insulin to keep blood sugars at normal levels. Adults diagnosed with diabetes in the United States has more than tripled over the past 20 years. The cost of diabetes to our health care system is hundreds of billions of dollars each year. 

  
Scientific challenges to T2D research

  • Rodents don't replicate human T2D in the lab
  • Activating “beige” fat cells in humans may alleviate diabetes, but they're very difficult to isolate and study in humans
  • T2D is a multi-organ disease affecting both insulin secretion by beta cells in the pancreas, and insulin signaling to its “target tissues” of liver, muscle and body fat. This makes it extremely difficult to determine the cause of the disease.

UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence scientists have...

Discovered the benefits of beige fat

In 2016 the Corvera Lab published that every bit of our own fat has the ability to generate beige fat, which could potentially be deployed within ourselves to treat diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Produced beige cells in the lab as a potential therapy

Further research proved that rare beige cells, known to attack fat, can be obtained from humans.  Our scientists are removing beige cells from people with T2D, reproducing millions of those cells in the lab, then implanting them back into the same individual to improve their blood sugar metabolism. This proved successful in our unique humanized mouse models and is now in human clinical trials.

Developed new techniques for silencing and editing genes

The UMass Institute for RNA Therapeutics includes a Nobel Laureate. Our world leaders in RNAi and gene therapy have developed new methods to silence and edit genes. Our scientists are using CRISPR and other gene editing tools to enhance sugar metabolism.

Created new procedures for analyzing genes in single cells of tissues affected by diabetes for potential treatment

We're targeting specific genes that are not functioning properly and working to alter them for diabetes management. This includes the pancreas, liver and adipose (fat) tissue.  

Discovered a potential hormone therapy 

We identified a fat-to-liver axis that may be pharmacologically tractable for the development of drugs to counteract the metabolic pathology that results in the development of type 2 diabetes.  

Investigated what causes proliferation in beta cells

Beta cells in rodents can rapidly reproduce and multiply, however human beta cells do not. We're working to create insulin producing beta cells in people with diabetes. Beta cell regeneration could help to prevent or treat the disease. 

    

Some of the Current Type 2 Diabetes Research at UMass Chan Medical School

Re-engineering “Bad Fat” into “Good Fat” as a Therapeutic Approach to Type 2 Diabetes 

The Messina Lab is Developing a Treatment for Previously Non-Healing Wounds in People with Type 2 Diabetes

Investigating Fat Cell Function in the Guertin Lab to Develop & Test Therapies for Type 2 Diabetes 

The Czech Lab is Studying Beige Fat As a Way to Increase Metabolism

The Corvera Lab is Examining How Different Body Fat Plays a Role in Type 2 Diabetes

The Davis Lab is Investigating a Potential Hormone Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes

DCOE Research Labs

   

Beige Fat: a potential therapy for people with Type 2 diabetes

 

Beta Cell Proliferation: a plan to prevent or treat diabetes

 

$2.5M grant to advance potential therapy for T2D

Micheal Czech and Silvia Corvera

Michael Czech, PhD, is collaborating with Silvia Corvera, MD to investigate whether technologies developed in their labs will harness beige fat’s ability to burn energy and accelerate metabolism in order to improve the body’s response to sugar and lower blood glucose levels.  Learn More