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Research Spotlight: A New Angle on the Progression of Type 1 Diabetes

Jo Spencer, Ph.D., King’s College London School of Medicine

Dr. Jo Spencer has published extensively on immune cells that reside in the gastrointestinal system, or gut. Because this organ shares many similarities with the pancreas, Dr. Spencer has brought her expertise into the field of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Dr. Spencer’s research transitioned from the field of mucosal immune cell infiltration to the field of diabetes due to the availability of tissues through the nPOD program. By examining the immune cells present in T1D pancreata, Dr. Spencer hopes to understand what role these cells have in T1D progression. Certain immune cells are seen in the pancreas in T1D patients, but only during a certain window of time during T1D onset. Dr. Spencer’s research is critical to uncovering the mechanisms of immune cells present in the pancreas during T1D onset.

Thanks to the nPOD program, Dr. Spencer has access to many tissues and slides, both in the laboratory and through online banking. “It’s been a rare privilege to work with the nPOD collection, and to actually see the specimens online before receiving them,” Dr. Spencer remarked in our interview. Her research on immune cells in T1D progression provides an anatomical viewpoint and gives researchers a new way to understand this disease in humans. Ultimately the nPOD program and investigators such as Dr. Spencer will contribute to the knowledge about T1D onset and progression, and will aid the development of new therapies for T1D patients.

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