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Publications of the Week

A Phase 2 Randomized Trial with Autologous Polyclonal Expanded Regulatory T Cells in Children with New-Onset Type 1 Diabetes

By May 17, 2024No Comments
Christine bender and alice long

This week we profile a recent publication in Science Translational Medicine by Drs. Christine Bender (pictured, left) and Alice Long (right) at the Center for Translational Immunology at the Benaroya Research Institute.


Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?  

Our lab focuses on understanding how therapies work and in whom they may work best. We focus primarily on type 1 diabetes and ask in-depth questions about T cell biology in the therapeutic setting. This includes the study of exhausted T cells, Tregs, and cytokine signaling. 


What is the significance of the findings in this publication?  

First and foremost, expanded Tregs are safe, and there is tremendous value in performing mechanistic studies on trials so we can learn from all trials, even ones without positive clinical effects. This has implications for many developing Treg therapies using expanded Tregs, whether they are CAR or genetically modified in other ways. Mechanistically, our data show that individuals with Tregs that expand to a lesser degree in vitro have better outcomes. This suggests that expanded Treg biology is nuanced, and we have a lot more to learn so we can provide better therapies. 


What are the next steps for this research?  

We are interested in the effect of newer therapies that promote Treg expansion and function in vivo, like IL-2 muteins, and we are interested in learning why some people have slow vs fast in vitro expanding Treg since this is associated with outcome. More broadly, we are eager to explore additional trials to learn from therapies. We are currently studying responder and non-responders to abatacept (CTLA4Ig). 


What kind of impact do you hope your research will have?  

We hope that it will move newer therapies that promote Tregs and cell therapies forward based on safety and Treg biology learned here. We also hope that people see the value of learning from all trials.  


Is the application of your research a primary motivator for you?

Yes, translation is our main goal. That said, translation cannot be done well and expediently without understanding the basic biology, so that is always a focus.


This work was generously supported by funding from the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) in collaboration with Sanford Health.