Stephan Kissler, Joslin’s new addition to the immunology team, is trying to crack the genetic code behind type 1 diabetes. And the end result could prevent the disease from happening in the first place.
Type 1 diabetes happens when the immune system starts destroying the cells that produce insulin. Researchers already know there is a genetic reason underlying the onset of diabetes. Now they’re trying to determine which genes are the actual culprits.
Developments in research techniques over the past five years have allowed scientists to map the genetic blueprint of individuals with and without genetics-based diseases (including type 1 diabetes) and compare the results—a process known as “genome-wide association studies”. This technique, when turned towards type 1 diabetes, reveals more than 50 different genes that are associated in one way or another with the disease.