The human pancreas is very difficult to study, as JDRF-funded scientists well know. It cannot be imaged or safely biopsied from a living person. As a result, much of the research on how T1D occurs was previously conducted in animal models. While these studies taught us a great deal, they did not fully answer the fundamental questions about how T1D develops and progresses in humans. The JDRF Network for Pancreatic Organ donors with Diabetes (nPOD) changed that.
Ten years ago, nPOD was developed by JDRF to serve as the world’s largest tissue bank dedicated to the study of the human pancreas in T1D. It collects and processes pancreatic and other tissues from organ donors who had or were at increased risk for T1D, and makes them available to investigators around the world for research. JDRF, through its support of nPOD and other initiatives, is transforming T1D research by advancing the number of investigations performed using human samples, including almost 250 studies by nPOD scientists today.
“Over nPOD’s ten years of investigation, we have learned a great deal about how T1D develops in the human pancreas and, in the process, have overturned a number of dogmatic notions regarding the disease’s pathogenesis,” says Mark A. Atkinson, Ph.D., at the University of Florida, who established nPOD and currently serves as its executive director. “We are seeing a breadth of information coming to the forefront, which will ultimately be used to understand the causes of T1D and a path towards a cure.”
As we celebrate Donate Life Month in April, we also encourage you to become an organ donor, whether or not you have T1D or are at an increased risk of developing it. This selfless act has the potential to save multiple lives in settings of organ transplantation, as well as support research activities like nPOD. You can sign up for a nPOD donor card, which will alert your family of your desire to donate your pancreas and other tissue to T1D research. You can also sign up at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services site, organdonor.gov.
The generosity of people who donate their pancreas and other organs allows physicians to save lives and helps scientists accelerate the pace of investigation, enabling them to find ways to prevent, treat, and—one day—cure T1D.
We hope you will register today.