University of Massachusetts Medical School, Mass.

Hello. I'm Michael Czech, professor and chair of the program of molecular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Our medical school has recently established a diabetes research center of excellence, and we're very pleased to be one of only sixteen medical schools in the country that has a diabetes research center funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Many faculty at our medical school are working on both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and making really exciting process. One example of our work in the area of type 1 diabetes relates to the autoimmunity which seems to cause the disease. Immunological tolerance, as a focal point of this research, has the potential to alleviate, or even prevent, the onset of type 1 diabetes. But it also has the potential to allow transplantation of beta cells, or islets, into patients with diabetes, thus curing the disease.


Another exciting example of research at our medical school related to type 2 diabetes, in this instance, is the use of RNAi. The stunning discovery of RNAi right here at UMass Medical School by Craig Mello and a colleague at Stanford University, Andy Fire, won the Nobel prize last year. RNAi dramatically expedites the discovery of genes, and RNAi itself can be used like a laser to silence those genes that may be causative in diabetes.

In addition, RNAi may itself be used as a medicine. In that regard, the major scientific hurdle is the delivery of RNAi as a molecule into humans. Research at the medical school is leading the way in finding ways to get such delivery by RNAi, and we have great hope that that technology could be developed to the stage where it could be used as a medicine itself and hopefully in the cure of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.