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Type 1 diabetes, also known as 'juvenile diabetes', results from a self-destructive immune response against the insulin producing pancreatic beta cells. As a result of this so-called 'autoimmune' disease, patients with type 1 diabetes develop a life long dependence on insulin replacement therapy. Unfortunately, this form of treatment is often insufficient for preventing a number of debilitating complications including heart disease, blindness, and kidney disease, among others. As a result, JDRF is committed to find a method for preventing or permanently reversing this disorder; an effort that would undoubtedly benefit from an improved understanding of how type 1 diabetes develops.
Somewhat surprisingly, many of our current concepts as to how type 1 diabetes develops result from autopsy based studies of human pancreas dating back to the 1960s (which indicated patients with this disorder had white blood cell infiltration of pancreatic islets ... a condition termed 'insulitis'), and more recently, from investigations of pancreatic material obtained from rodent models for the disease. Thanks to improved research tools, more recent autopsy studies of pancreata obtained from a limited number of individuals with type 1 diabetes have, however, challenged longstanding dogmas of how type 1 diabetes develops. Based on this need, JDRF organized and developed nPOD; the Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes.
The goals of the nPOD initiative are to: 1) Maintain a network of procuring and characterizing, in a collaborative manner, pancreata and related tissues (spleen, lymph node, pancreatic lymph node, peripheral blood) from cadaveric organ donors with type 1 diabetes as well as those whom are islet autoantibody positive; and 2) Utilizing these tissues, investigators will work together to address key immunological, histological, viral, and metabolic questions related to how type 1 diabetes develops.