Matthias von Herrath
My research program is translational in nature and my dream is to see some of the immune based interventions we discovered in animal models translated to improve human health. We are focused on dissecting how autoantigen-induced regulatory T cells (Tregs) act in immune-competent hosts in vivo and how they can be used in the clinic to prevent type 1 diabetes. In this context we were the first to describe that insulin B chain-expressing DNA vaccines can prevent diabetes in animal models through induction of such Tregs (Coon et al. JCI 1999 and Homann Immunity 1999), an approach that has borne initial promise now in clinical trials (BayHill Therapeutics). These discoveries have led me to take the position as Vice President NovoNordisk for their Seattle Diabetes R&D Center in 2012. Another key project has been the development of combination therapies aimed at reversing recent onset type 1 diabetes. The therapy has shown promise in mouse models and involves using a combination of a vaccine to stimulate Tregs and an immune modulator (anti-CD3 or anti-CD20) that dampens autoaggressive T cells and facilitates the induction of Tregs. More basic research projects analyze the histopathology of human type 1 diabetes in conjunction with the nPOD consortium. It is my hope that paradigms developed from these studies will not only be useful in selectively suppressing autoimmune diseases, but can also be employed to lower immunopathology that accompanies viral infections such as Hepatitis C virus and HIV.
Abstracts this author is presenting: