Press Release


JDRF research grant for type 1 diabetes research at Helmholtz Zentrum München

Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München aim to investigate T-cell mediated immunoreactions involved in type 1 diabetes to find out what processes influence the progress of the disease. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) supports the research project with a grant of 550.000 US-Dollars.


Logo JDRF, Source: JDRF

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, characterized by a loss of self-tolerance and the presence of autoantibodies e.g. to Insulin that is produced by beta cells of the pancreas. Autoantibodies can be detected in the blood many years before onset of the disease. Presence of multiple autoantibodies has an almost 100 percent likelihood of developing diabetes later in life, although the time of progression to overt diabetes can widely differ.

What cellular and molecular mechanisms control the autoimmune process and lead to latency or remission of disease? Understanding these connections is the goal of the team of Prof. Dr. Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, Dr. Carolin Daniel, Dr. Stefanie Hauck und Prof. Dr. Ezio Bonifacio from the Helmholtz Zentrum München in cooperation with the Center for Regenerative Therapies, Technische Universität Dresden. Both research institutions are partners of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD). The signals involved in the immune response could help to estimate the risk of disease progression and reveal novel targets for prevention and therapy of type 1 diabetes.

The research team therefore wants to investigate T lymphocytes, immune cells that recognize beta cell antigens. Preliminary data suggests that regulatory phenotypes of T cells could hold up immune reactions and decelerate disease progression. Through unique bioresources that have been collected for more than 20 years, the scientists hope to identify biomarkers of disease latency and remission.

JDRF, a foundation for research on type 1 diabetes, is awarding this research grant as part of its prevention research program, the goal of which is to slow or halt the progression of disease before insulin dependence occurs, and long-term, to eliminate the risk of developing the disease. “Preventing type 1 diabetes is challenging because of the complexity of the autoimmune process that is at the heart of this disease,” said JDRF senior scientist and program lead Jessica Dunne, Ph.D. “Developing a better understanding of why some individuals with autoantibodies progress more slowly may open new pathways to prevention strategies.”

Find out more about research in type 1 diabetes at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

Further Information

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,200 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 34,000 staff members.

The German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) brings together experts in the field of diabetes research and interlinks basic research, epidemiology and clinical applications. Members are the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf, the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE) in Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health, the Paul Langerhans Institutes of the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus in Dresden and the University of Tübingen, as well as the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Association and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. The objective of the DZD is to find answers to open questions in diabetes research by means of a novel, integrative research approach and to make a significant contribution to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Scientific Contact
Prof. Dr. Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt (GmbH), Institute of Diabetes Research, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany - Phone: +49-089-3187-3405 -