At City of Hope, our experts are advancing breakthrough interventions that correct autoimmunity by regulating — instead of suppressing — the immune system. Our innovative approaches aim to restore a balanced immune system in order to stop its attack on insulin-producing beta cells. We are also endeavoring to reawaken or boost a patient’s remaining beta cells, or regenerate beta cells, in order to help them produce insulin on their own. These therapies represent a radical departure from traditional treatment methods that target the consequences of the disease rather than its cause (insulin insufficiency).
In recent years, research from our program has demonstrated that an approach involving mixed chimerism reverses autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes in mouse models. Mixed chimerism is achieved when the donor and recipient immune systems are combined and stable — establishing a new immune balance that halts the attack on insulin-producing cells. Our researchers continue to move toward clinical trials.
We are also conducting research aimed at balancing the immune system by expanding and re-engineering immune cells that control and direct the fight against disease. This new approach promises to both balance the immune system and provide a healthy environment for new beta cells to grow and produce insulin.
A sister project is the exploration of nano cell products that protect beta cells from destruction. This leading-edge research will be ready for clinical trial in the next few years.
Because of our strength in advancing immunology and immunotherapies for other diseases, including cancer, City of Hope is a particularly exciting place to explore cell-based, immune-modulating approaches to type 1 diabetes.
Recently, our investigators re-engineered a patient’s own immune cells to seek out cancer and mount an immune response — harnessing the body’s own natural abilities to fight disease. Our first-in-human trials for these therapies demonstrate our ability to quickly translate science to the clinic, as well as our expertise in producing cell products for trial, which is a highly specialized process.