Developing Beta Cell Imaging Probes to Address Type 1 Diabetes Treatment

February 05, 2020

One of our newest postdoctoral fellows, Stephane Demine, recently shared with the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI) team the benefits of using PET-CT scans. The development of such probes is critical to address the future challenges of type 1 diabetes treatment. Such probes will allow us to identify the patients that could benefit from these therapies and to assess the efficiency of the treatment.

If you're wondering why we don’t already have beta cell imaging probes, there are several challenges Demine outlined that need to be overcome:

  • Size: Islets are made up of alpha and beta cells and are 50 to 400 micrometers
  • Distribution: Tiny islets are scattered in a large organ, the pancreas
  • Inflammation: This alters the expression level of many genes in beta cells
  • Leftovers: The remaining beta cells can still be functional

The good news? Demine says these challenges have been overcome in other diseases, such as Parkinson’s. He believes, we, too, can overcome these challenges.

Through his work in IBRI Investigator Decio Eizirik’s lab, Demine has identified three biomarkers and has developed imaging for each biomarker. He is continuing his research to identify which beta cell imaging probe will work best.