Campus Alert: Find the latest UMMS campus news and resources at umassmed.edu/coronavirus

Search Close Search
Search Close Search
Page Menu

Our Strategies to Prevent and Cure Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)

More than 34 million Americans have diabetes. 88 million others have prediabetes, which is defined as higher than normal blood sugar levels but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes (T2D). Prediabetes puts people at higher risk of T2D, heart disease and/or stroke. T2D may also lead to kidney failure, vision loss and/or amputations. Adults diagnosed with diabetes in the United States has more than tripled over the past 20 years. The cost of diabetes to our health care system is hundreds of billions of dollars each year. 

  

Type 2 diabetes (T2D)

T2D means the body does not use insulin properly. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. However, over time it's not isn't able to keep up and can no longer make enough insulin to keep blood sugars at normal levels.  

Scientific hurdles when researching a cure for T2D

  • Rodents do not replicate human T2D in the lab
  • Detailed studies of humans are extremely difficult or impossible 
  • Activating “beige” fat cells in humans may alleviate diabetes, but they're very difficult to isolate and study in humans
  • T2D is a multi-organ disease affecting both insulin secretion by beta cells in the pancreas, and insulin signaling to its “target tissues” of liver, muscle and body fat. This makes it extremely difficult to determine the cause of the disease.

UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence scientists have...

Discovered the benefits of beige fat

Our research proved that rare beige cells, known to attack fat in our body, could be obtained from humans. Millions of these beneficial cells are now being produced in our labs, from a single individual.

Produced beige cells in the lab for potential therapy and clinical trials

Our scientists are working within FDA guidelines to remove beige cells from a person with T2D, grow them in the lab, then implanting them back into that person to improve their blood sugar metabolism. This has already been successful in our unique UMass Medical “humanized” mice and is now in human clinical trials.

Developed new techniques for silencing and editing genes

The UMass Institute for RNA Therapeutics includes a Nobel Laureate. Our world leaders in RNAi and gene therapy have developed new methods to silence and edit genes. UMass DCOE scientists use CRISPR and other gene editing tools to enhance sugar metabolism.

Created new procedures for analyzing genes in single cells of tissues affected by diabetes for potential treatment

We're targeting specific genes that are not functioning properly and working to alter them for diabetes management. This includes the pancreas, liver and adipose (fat) tissues.  

Discovered a potential hormone therapy 

Our research identified a fat-to-liver axis that may be pharmacologically tractable for the development of drugs to counteract the metabolic pathology that results in the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.  

Investigated what causes proliferation in beta cells

Beta cells in rodents can rapidly reproduce and multiply, however human beta cells do not. We're working to create insulin producing beta cells in people with diabetes. Beta cell regeneration could help to prevent or treat the disease. 

    

Some of the Current Type 2 Diabetes Research at UMass Medical School

Re-engineering “Bad Fat” into “Good Fat” as a Therapeutic Approach to Type 2 Diabetes 

The Messina Lab is Developing a Treatment for Previously Non-Healing Wounds in People with Type 2 Diabetes

Investigating Fat Cell Function in the Guertin Lab to Develop & Test Therapies for Type 2 Diabetes 

The Czech Lab is Studying Beige Fat As a Way to Increase Metabolism

The Corvera Lab is Examining How Different Body Fat Plays a Role in Type 2 Diabetes

The Davis Lab is Investigating a Potential Hormone Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes

DCOE RESEARCH LABS

   

Beige Fat: a potential therapy for people with Type 2 diabetes

 

Beta Cell Proliferation: a plan to prevent or treat diabetes

 

$2.5M grant to advance potential therapy for T2D

Micheal Czech and Silvia Corvera

Michael Czech, PhD, is collaborating with Silvia Corvera, MD to investigate whether technologies developed in their labs will harness beige fat’s ability to burn energy and accelerate metabolism in order to improve the body’s response to sugar and lower blood glucose levels.  Learn More