Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New imaging technology shown to detect pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes


Non-invasive imaging may help predict type 1 diabetes and response to treatment in humans: Joslin recruiting for new Imaging in Diabetes Clinical Trial

A key obstacle to early detection of type 1 diabetes - as well as to rapid assessment of the effectiveness of therapeutic intervention - has been the lack of direct, non-invasive technologies to visualize inflammation in the pancreas, an early manifestation of disease. Instead, clinicians have had to await overt symptoms before diagnosing an individual, by which time destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas has already progressed significantly.

Recent proof-of-principle experiments by Joslin Diabetes Center and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers, however, offer hope that physicians may one day be able to identify individuals with preclinical type 1 diabetes, and to assess the effectiveness of therapies much earlier than is now possible. Findings of the study will be published in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own insulin-producing beta cells and eventually kills them. Early in this process, white blood cells called T lymphocytes infiltrate the islets of the pancreas (an inflammatory condition known as insulitis), causing the blood vessels to become leaky. Over time, this infiltration of lymphocytes destroys the beta cells, leading to high blood glucose and full-blown diabetes. Today, the only accurate method for detecting the progression or regression of insulitis is a biopsy of the pancreas, which is almost never performed because it is an invasive and potentially risky procedure.

"The most exciting aspect of this study is that it demonstrates that we can, at least in mice, use a non-invasive imaging method to predict at a very early time whether a drug will stop the progression of diabetes or not. In fact, the drug we used in these proof-of-principle experiments is analogous to one currently being tried in humans with diabetes, and so far showing great promise," said Diane Mathis, Ph.D., who led the study together with Christophe Benoist, M.D., Ph.D., also from Joslin, and Ralph Weissleder, M.D., Ph.D., of MGH.

Drs. Mathis and Benoist head Joslin’s Section on Immunology and Immunogenetics, hold William T. Young Chairs in Diabetes Research at Joslin, and are Professors of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Other investigators in the study included Stuart Turvey, M.D., Ph.D., formerly of Joslin, who is now at the University of British Columbia and British Columbia Children’s Hospital, both in Vancouver, Canada; Maria Denis, Ph.D., a former Joslin research fellow who now works at the BSRC Alexander Fleming Institute of Immunology in Greece, and Eric Swart and Umar Mahmood, M.D., Ph.D., from MGH.

In this study, the Joslin and MGH researchers used a new imaging technique to reveal the otherwise undetectable inflammation of pancreatic islets in recently diagnosed diabetic mice. As T lymphocytes invade the pancreas, blood vessels swell, become more permeable, and leak fluid – as well as small molecules carried in the fluid – into surrounding tissues. In previous experiments, the researchers demonstrated that this leakage can be detected with the help of magnetic nanoparticles (MNP) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). After being injected intravenously, these MNPs, which are minute particles of iron oxide, travel through the blood vessels of the body including the pancreas. If pancreatic vessels have become leaky from inflammation, the magnetic particles spill into nearby tissues, where they are "eaten" by scavenger cells called macrophages. Thus, the MNPs become concentrated at the inflamed site and can be spotted by high-resolution MRI.

In their recent study, the researchers applied the MRI-MNP technique to determine whether they could predict which mice would develop autoimmune diabetes and monitor the effectiveness of immune therapy aimed at reversing diabetes. The goal of this study was to gather data on mouse models that could guide the safe application of the technique in human patients with, or at risk of, type 1 diabetes.

Results of this study suggest that the MRI-MNP imaging technology may be helpful in identifying people at immediate risk of developing autoimmune diabetes, but most of all for early prediction of response to therapy, which might be very useful for reducing the time and cost of clinical trials. "Because the results in mice looked so good, and because our MGH colleagues have already successfully used essentially the same drug on many patients with prostate cancer," said Dr. Benoist, "we have been able to move relatively quickly into clinical trials." Dr. Turvey added: "We hope to know soon whether we can use this drug and imaging technique to monitor pancreas inflammation in humans."

Now Recruiting for Clinical Trial

Joslin investigators are currently recruiting subjects for the Imaging in Diabetes clinical trial. Subjects must be individuals over the age of 17 who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within the last six months or who are at increased risk for developing type 1 diabetes, based on family history and antibody testing. At present, the trial is enrolling only at-risk individuals who have already been risk stratified. Qualified individuals interested in more information about this trial should contact Jason Gaglia at Joslin Diabetes Center at 617-732-2481 or

Marge Dwyer | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Gentle sensors for diagnosing brain disorders
29.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

nachricht New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development
28.09.2016 | Lund University

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>