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Dr Prerak Trivedi

Research Officer, Islet biology Laboratory

Disarming immune cells to prevent type 1 diabetes

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The Problem

The job of the immune system is to protect us from viral and bacterial infections. However, sometimes this process goes awry and the immune system attacks normal cells, leading to the development of autoimmune disease.

In type 1 diabetes, immune cells mistakenly target the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells.

These immune cell are long-lived and retain their function over a long period of time. Even after a person has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the immune cells continue to contribute to ongoing destruction of beta cells. To achieve prevention of type 1 diabetes, we need to find new ways of eliminating this immune attack.

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The Project

Immune cells that recognise beta cells sometimes go into a state of hibernation, which may help them to elude current therapies. But even in hibernation, these immune cells need to generate energy for survival and to maintain their function.

Dr Prerak Trivedi aims to identify the energy pathways upon which immune cells rely, by using state-of-the-art technologies and in collaboration with experts in the field of metabolism (how cells produce and manage energy).

“By discovering the metabolic pathways that are used by the immune cells, I hope to identify new ways to ‘disarm’ them, preventing destruction of insulin-producing beta cells”, says Prerak.

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Dr Prerak Trivedi

Prerak is a molecular and cellular immunologist who works to understand the function of the immune system in health and disease. During his PhD studies in SVI’s Immunology and Diabetes Lab, he studied how immune cells recognise and kill beta cells. His work was key to initiating SVI’s BANDIT clinical trial for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. After completing his PhD, Prerak moved to New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, researching immune cells in cancer. In 2021, Prerak returned to SVI to study the function and differentiation of immune cells in type 1 diabetes.

Prerak’s research has been recognised in publications, oral, poster presentations and fellowships/awards, as well as in the establishment of collaborations with academia and bio-pharma industries. His work in the scientific community includes mentoring students, peer-reviewing and participation in scientific societies and associations.