ENT1DEP aims to establish causal links between enterovirus (EV) infections and type 1 diabetes (T1D). By employing a multidisciplinary approach, the project investigates three pivotal questions:
- β-cell Destruction: Examining why only insulin-producing β-cells are targeted by EVs. This involves studying weak β-cell antiviral responses and high EV entry receptor expression using human cell models, organoids, and pancreatic tissues from T1D patients.
- Individual Susceptibility to T1D: Investigating why only certain individuals develop T1D after EV infection. The project analyzes adaptive and innate immune responses to EVs, correlating these with gene polymorphisms and EV persistence in children from birth to T1D development.
- Risk Attenuation Strategies: Addressing how to mitigate EV-associated T1D risk through vaccines and antiviral drugs. This includes examining samples from EV vaccine and T1D antiviral trials to develop biomarkers for vaccine efficacy and studying the impact of vaccine-induced antibodies on preventing EV-induced diabetes in mice.
The overarching goal is to identify individuals at risk for EV-induced T1D for early interventions, with potential applications extending to other non-communicable diseases. Knowledge dissemination among stakeholders is a key focus to optimize NCD prevention and treatment strategies.