One out of every 10 adults in our state grapples with diabetes, and more than one-third of the population is at risk for this disease. Those are staggering statistics!

Meet the Explorers

Diabetes prevention was the topic of assistant professor Jason Collier's talk at the Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation's September Council of 100 Meet the Explorers luncheon. Working in Pennington's Islet Biology and Inflammation Laboratory, Collier investigates how inflammatory processes lead to the damage of pancreatic beta cells. Those are the unique cells in the pancreas that regulate insulin production and release.

Collier's work is particularly important in Louisiana, which has a high rate of the disease. His research has already uncovered specific mechanisms that interfere with the release of insulin from beta cells in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The team is now exploring how immune cells are recruited into the pancreatic tissue.

With this new understanding of how insulin-producing beta cells can be attacked by the immune system, Collier and his colleagues are now focusing on developing new medicines and other interventions that could either prevent the destruction of beta cells or preserve the function of the remaining cells. Ultimately, these studies could lead to new treatments with fewer side effects.

Follow Pam Bordelon on Twitter, @pamspartyline.