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Accomplishments in Diabetes Research

City of Hope researchers have built the foundation of scientific knowledge upon which the understanding and treatment of diabetes are based.
 
Engineering synthetic insulin

In the late 1970s,  Arthur Riggs , Ph.D., and Keiichi Itakura, Ph.D., produced synthetic human insulin using bacteria. It became the first genetically engineered product approved by the Food and Drug Administration and today is used worldwide by millions of people with diabetes. The breakthrough made insulin more available and affordable and helped launch the biotechnology industry.
City of Hope researchers have made numerous breakthoughs, including in islet-cell transplantation and in the understanding of islet dysfunction.
 
Perfecting islet transplantation protocols

Fouad Kandeel , M.D., Ph.D., perfected clinical islet-cell transplantation protocols and has developed imaging methods that enable physicians to more monitor in real time the health of islets after transplantation.
 
Targeting diabetic complications

Rama Natarajan , Ph.D., and Jerry Nadler, M.D., conducted research dealing with diabetic complications and islet dysfunction. Their work has led to the identification of novel therapeutic targets and agents for the treatment of diabetic complications. Natarajan was also the first to demonstrate the role of epigenetics in diabetic vascular inflammation and in the metabolic memory phenomenon.

Her laboratory was also the first to demonstrate how microRNAs (small, non-coding RNAs) can cause the overproduction of collagen, which creates damage that can lead to kidney abnormalities and renal dysfunction. She used therapeutic interventions to block these microRNAs, slowing the cells’ harmful overproduction of collagen and other proteins and kidney damage.
 
 
Diagnosing type 1 diabetes sooner

Kevin Ferreri , Ph.D., has developed a new method of diagnosing type 1 diabetes. His research team detected unique markings on the DNA of insulin-producing cells. When these cells die during the progression of type 1 diabetes, the markings can be detected on DNA that circulates in the blood. This method can be used to diagnose type 1 diabetes before complications and can be used to test the effectiveness of new treatments.

To read about more of City of Hope researchers’ accomplishments, including the 1940s discovery by Rachmiel Levine, M.D., of insulin’s role in processing sugars, read our Diabetes Program History page. 
 

Accomplishments

Accomplishments in Diabetes Research

City of Hope researchers have built the foundation of scientific knowledge upon which the understanding and treatment of diabetes are based.
 
Engineering synthetic insulin

In the late 1970s,  Arthur Riggs , Ph.D., and Keiichi Itakura, Ph.D., produced synthetic human insulin using bacteria. It became the first genetically engineered product approved by the Food and Drug Administration and today is used worldwide by millions of people with diabetes. The breakthrough made insulin more available and affordable and helped launch the biotechnology industry.
City of Hope researchers have made numerous breakthoughs, including in islet-cell transplantation and in the understanding of islet dysfunction.
 
Perfecting islet transplantation protocols

Fouad Kandeel , M.D., Ph.D., perfected clinical islet-cell transplantation protocols and has developed imaging methods that enable physicians to more monitor in real time the health of islets after transplantation.
 
Targeting diabetic complications

Rama Natarajan , Ph.D., and Jerry Nadler, M.D., conducted research dealing with diabetic complications and islet dysfunction. Their work has led to the identification of novel therapeutic targets and agents for the treatment of diabetic complications. Natarajan was also the first to demonstrate the role of epigenetics in diabetic vascular inflammation and in the metabolic memory phenomenon.

Her laboratory was also the first to demonstrate how microRNAs (small, non-coding RNAs) can cause the overproduction of collagen, which creates damage that can lead to kidney abnormalities and renal dysfunction. She used therapeutic interventions to block these microRNAs, slowing the cells’ harmful overproduction of collagen and other proteins and kidney damage.
 
 
Diagnosing type 1 diabetes sooner

Kevin Ferreri , Ph.D., has developed a new method of diagnosing type 1 diabetes. His research team detected unique markings on the DNA of insulin-producing cells. When these cells die during the progression of type 1 diabetes, the markings can be detected on DNA that circulates in the blood. This method can be used to diagnose type 1 diabetes before complications and can be used to test the effectiveness of new treatments.

To read about more of City of Hope researchers’ accomplishments, including the 1940s discovery by Rachmiel Levine, M.D., of insulin’s role in processing sugars, read our Diabetes Program History page. 
 
Overview
Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope is responsible for fundamentally expanding the world’s understanding of how biology affects diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and diabetes.
 
 
Research Departments/Divisions

City of Hope is a leader in translational research - integrating basic science, clinical research and patient care.
 

Research Shared Services

City of Hope embodies the spirit of scientific collaboration by sharing services and core facilities with colleagues here and around the world.
 

Our Scientists

Our research laboratories are led by the best and brightest minds in scientific research.
 

City of Hope’s Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences equips students with the skills and strategies to transform the future of modern medicine.
Develop new therapies, diagnostics and preventions in the fight against cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
 


NEWS & UPDATES
  • Henry Ford said it well: “Working together is success.” For biomedical researchers, this is especially true. The challenges they face often require expertise from multiple fields to find answers and solutions. Scientists seeking cures for type 1 diabetes in particular must overcome biological, medical and techn...
  • Superheroes are making plenty of headlines as the summer blockbuster season opens. At City of Hope, a 9-year-old girl wept as she hugged her own superhero: someone who had the superpower of healing her cancer. He didn’t wear flashy armor or a cape, but rather a plaid shirt. He doesn’t have a secret ...
  • Known for his ability to bring together, and lead, effective research teams, world-renowned translational research scientist and physician Larry W. Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., has joined City of Hope in a key leadership role within the institution’s new Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Instit...
  • To detect melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, at its earliest, most treatable stage, conduct a head-to-toe skin self-examination once a month to check for suspicious moles.   Unusual, or atypical, moles can ultimately develop into skin cancer. Here is the ABCDE guide to potentially cancerous mol...
  • “Superheroes,” “grateful” and “lifesavers”: All are words patients have used to describe their bone marrow donors. For donors, “a great feeling” and “the right thing to do” seems to sum up their view of donating the stem cells used to save someone’s life. Bone marrow transplants of...
  • Updated: May 1, 2015 More than a decade after joining the bone marrow registry during a blood drive at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Phil Ratcliff received a call that he was a match for a leukemia patient. By then, he’d left his military career to start his own financial business, married [...
  • Updated: May 1. For Lars Nijland, the reason to become a member of a bone marrow registry was simple. “I always thought there would be no easier way to save somebody’s life,” said the 24-year-old student at Germany’s University of Goettingen, who signed up for the registry during a drive on his campus. Ni...
  • Updated: May 1 No parent ever wants to see their child hurting or sick in any way. Joanne Cooper’s daughter Amanda wasn’t sick, though. She seemed healthy. Vibrant. A straight-A student whose only major health ailment had been bouts of stress-related nausea. Then a blood test revealed that Amanda – now 9 years ...
  • Noe Chavez became animated when he recalled the story: “We were running a health event, screening folks for diabetes,” said the enthusiastic City of Hope population health researcher, “and this man comes over and starts talking to us about the trouble he’s having with his eyes. I spoke with him, listened ...
  • When Keith McKinny, 29, was first diagnosed with lymphoma and leukemia in 2010, the first person he thought of was former boyfriend Jason Mullins. The two hadn’t been in contact with each other for some time, but McKinny couldn’t think of anyone else with whom he wanted to be during that difficult period....
  • Updated: May 1 Yesenia Portillo’s search for a bone marrow donor started close to home. Her brother, sister and seven cousins all underwent testing, but none of them were a close enough match to donate the bone marrow stem cells she desperately needed for her transplant. Yesenia, now almost 16, had always been ...
  • Some of City of Hope’s most high-impact achievements have arisen from City of Hope’s globally recognized bone marrow transplant (BMT) program. The annual Karl G. Blume – Gerhard Schmidt Memorial Lecture in Transplantation Biology & Medicine — commemorating two of the most influential and revered...
  • Guido Marcucci, M.D., wants to put himself out of business. A respected clinician and esteemed basic and translational scientist, Marcucci joins City of Hope as co-director of the Gehr Family Center for Leukemia Research within the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute. In this positi...
  • To say that myelofibrosis patients need more treatment options would be an understatement. The severely low platelet counts, known as thrombocytopenia, that are one of the hallmark symptoms of the disease can lead to chronic fatigue and weakness that not only damage quality of life but, ultimately, shorten life...
  • Patients with metastatic colorectal cancer often stop responding to the primary drugs used against the disease, leaving them with few options and little hope. Determined to increase those options, doctors and researchers at City of Hope are conducting two clinical trials that could lead to new treatments for pe...