Endocrine, Immunology, Metabolic
Targeting the Islet Extracellular Matrix to Prevent Autoimmune Diabetes
2017 Harrington Scholar-Innovator
Dr. Bollyky is engaged in repurposing the drug hymecromone, approved for more than 50 years in Europe and Asia for gallstone prevention, to prevent and possibly treat Type 1 diabetes. The Bollyky lab has demonstrated that hyaluronan, a component of inflamed tissues, builds up in the pancreatic islets in individuals at risk of Type 1.
The Bollyky lab subsequently showed that the accumulation of hyaluronan is able to override the body’s normal protection against autoimmune attack and is essential for development of Type 1 diabetes. They found that hymecromone inhibits hyaluronan production, thereby preventing the autoimmune attack on the pancreas. Along with demonstrating the effectiveness of hymecromone in diabetes prevention, Dr. Bollyky is looking to Harrington Discovery Institute for assistance in formulating hymecromone as a once-a-day pill for maximum effectiveness.
“If we can figure out how inflamed tissues communicate with the immune system, we can modulate the signals that drive autoimmunity and teach the body not to attack itself.” “Our vision is to develop an oral pill for children at risk of T1D that will prevent the disease.”
“I have a personal interest in autoimmunity – a number of people in my family have T1D or other autoimmune diseases. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to pursue research questions that are personally meaningful, scientifically compelling and may potentially have a broad impact on patient health.”