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Exploration of miRNAs as molecular hubs of β cell dysfunction during the evolution of type 1 diabetes in field

table of 12 microscope images

The Evans-Molina lab is actively engaged in investigating the regulation of β cell gene transcriptional networks and understanding how these pathways become dysregulated under various disease conditions. A significant focus of the lab’s current work revolves around the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) as central players in β cell dysfunction during the progression of type 1 diabetes (T1D). The lab’s ongoing projects aim to pinpoint specific inflammatory miRNAs that contribute to β cell dysfunction in T1D. Additionally, they are working on the identification and validation of extracellular vesicle (EV) and exosome-derived miRNAs as potential biomarkers. These biomarkers could offer valuable insights into the health status of pancreatic β cells during the evolution of T1D and T2D. 

In a collaborative effort with Dr. Jing Liu's laboratory in the Department of Physics at Purdue University, the Evans-Molina lab is actively developing a robust pipeline to precisely determine the spatial localization and expression patterns of miRNAs within both the exocrine and endocrine compartments of the pancreas. Their research utilizes pancreatic tissue sections obtained from cadaveric organ donors, sourced through the Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD) biorepository 

Furthermore, the lab is part of another collaborative project funded by the Helmsley Charitable Trust and supported by the INNODIA consortium. In this project, they are collaborating with Dr. Alberto Pugliese (Arthur Riggs Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute), Dr. Shari Messinger (University of Miami), and Drs. Guido Sebastiani and Francesco Dotta (Umberto di MarioResearch Foundation). Together, they are working on the development and validation of portable assays designed to measure key plasma miRNA biomarkers for the early detection of T1D risk.  

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