Dale Greiner Laboratory
Our laboratory has two major areas of investigation.
First, our long standing major area of investigation is to understand the etiology and pathogenesis of autoimmune type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D). Our laboratory is focusing on the development of “humanized” mice to study human T1D in collaboration with Dr. Leonard Shultz at The Jackson Laboratory. We have developed unique strains of mice that can be engrafted with functional human cells and tissues, including human islets and human immune systems. We are now using these mice to understand how human beta cells resist killing by a human autoimmune system in vivo, how human beta cells replicate and regenerate in vivo, how human autoreactive cells develop in a human diabetes-susceptible immune system, and how a human immune system targets and kills beta cells in vivo. These approaches are allowing us to understand and dissect mechanisms important in human T1D that cannot be studied directly in humans.
Second, because these mice readily accept human cells and tissues, we are now using them to study human regenerative medicine, immunity, and human-specific infectious agents. Importantly, we are working with the clinical oncologists at UMass in an effort led by Dr. Giles Whalen who has established a “UMass Cancer Avatar Institute” for the study of human cancer our humanized mice in the absence or presence of a human immune system. Our studies in humanized mice have the potential to guide human clinical trials by determining the mechanisms by which therapeutic approaches such as those based on the new technology of RNAi can act directly on human immune systems, islets, and cancers in vivo, facilitating the direct translation of these agents into the clinic.