Leveraging resources to solve big problems
The IBRI has a proven ability to overcome organizational barriers to facilitate complex, multi-organizational projects. Institute researchers have ongoing projects with a variety of partners, including:
Regeneration of beta cells in Type 1 diabetics
Teresa Mastracci, PhD, is performing research in the area of Type 1 diabetes (T1D) with a specific focus on beta cell regeneration. The progressive loss of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas characterizes all forms of diabetes. The daily administration of exogenous insulin is a viable and long-standing therapy. However, research efforts are now aimed at generating therapeutics that can ultimately fix, not just treat, the beta cell loss. Mastracci is studying specific molecules that can be targeted by drugs to preserve or regenerate the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas of individuals suffering from T1D. This research is funded through a Career Development Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), recognizing Mastracci as a promising early career scientist.
In partnership with external collaborators from various universities, and utilizing resources from the Network of Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD), the Integrated Islet Distribution Program (IIDP), and ongoing clinical trials at Indiana University School of Medicine, the goal of this study is to identify biomarkers of beta cell preservation and growth in humans.
Understanding of public health in Indiana
IBRI worked with several government and non-profit health organizations to drive a rapid collaborative project to explore the available information for improved understanding of public health in Indiana. This project provided insights into available regional data and facilitates planning on how to better access and integrate data in the future to drive evidence-based programs and measure success within the state. A follow-on collaboration is in planning that uses the results and insights from this completed project.
Digital device data collection
With the rapid emergence of digital devices and associated toolkits such as Apple’s ResearchKit for iOS, personal devices are expected to be a key factor in understanding non-biological factors as it relates to disease. To generate experience in how to best drive research and innovation with these devices, IBRI initiated a collaboration with one of its stakeholders and a small entrepreneurial company with experience in health-based applications to generate a platform that will allow research of clinical application of these devices and securely capture this data for analysis.
Better understanding Type 2 diabetes
As shown by other research, Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is a complex, multi-symptomatic metabolic disease with variability in the patient population related to disease progression, therapeutic response, or related complications. Working in partnership with another research institute and its available clinical information, IBRI is coordinating a project with multiple stakeholders to analyze this data to better understand the patient subgroups, related disease characteristics, and complications of patients with T2D. In a secondary effort based on the findings of this project, IBRI will work with its partners to analyze biological samples to identify potential new therapeutic targets or biomarkers related to the disease subtypes.