Organ Donors Contribute to Type 1 Diabetes Research

In recent years, WRTC has provided numerous pancreata not acceptable for transplant to the Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD) via IIAM for important medical research. nPOD was established by JDRF, a global organization funding type 1 diabetes research. In its quest to prevent the disorder, JDRF needs to understand how type 1 diabetes (also known as juvenile diabetes) cultivates.

Believe it or not, current concepts as to how type 1 diabetes develops come from autopsy-based studies of human pancreata dating back to the 1960s, which indicated patients with this disorder had insulitis: a condition where white blood cell infiltration of pancreatic islets occurs. However, recent studies have challenged beliefs of how the disorder develops.

nPOD is currently focused on procuring and characterizing pancreata and related tissues (spleen, lymph node, pancreatic lymph node, peripheral blood, thymus and bone marrow) from deceased organ donors with type 1 diabetes and those who are islet autoantibody positive. Researchers will use these donor gifts to address key immunological, histological, viral, and metabolic questions related to how type 1 diabetes progresses in patients.