Researchers at the Washington University NIH/NIGMS work in a wide variety of areas that impact human health. Here we focus our research on Type 1 Diabetes, an autoimmune disease. Working with collaborators at the Washington University School of Medicine, we are using mass spectrometry to identify the peptides that cause the autoimmune response. Our Medical School colleagues study animal models and cell lines that mimic the disease. Samples extracted from these models are sent to the NCRR laboratory to be accessed using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry.
The end result of these mass spectrometry studies is a list of candidate peptide molecules that are then studied and tested further to determine if they can cause Type 1 Diabetes. There are millions of candidate molecules, and mass spectrometry has helped identify close to 1000. The challenge is that these molecules are at very low levels. Mass spectrometry is helping identify “the needle in a haystack.”
Using mass spectrometry to find the peptides that cause the immune response in Type 1 Diabetes will help researchers understand this and possibly other autoimmune diseases. It is hoped that better understanding of the disease will lead to more effective treatments and possibly a cure.
More information on Type 1 Diabetes can be found at the following websites: