Matthias G. von Herrath, M.D.
Dr. von Herrath is Professor/Member with Tenure at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, United States since last June. He received his M.D. in 1998 from the Freiburg Medical School, Germany. The focus of Dr. von Herrath’s research is to devise novel strategies to prevent type 1 diabetes by inducing autoreactive regulatory T cells. Furthermore, positive as well as negative associations between viral infections and autoimmune disease are being investigated. He is member of the FOCIS Steering Committee, International Diabetes Society Council, Clinical Immunology Society Council and Section Editor for JI Cutting Edge as well as Clinical Immunology.
Matthias von Herrath, M.D., and his team study why the immune system sometimes attacks the body's own cells. They focus on type 1 diabetes, a disease caused by the immune system attacking the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, and on diseases caused by viral infections. Their goal is to develop and evaluate new treatments and therapies for these conditions, in particular immune-based interventions.
The laboratory has found that stimulating the immune system with beta cell proteins via DNA vaccines results in a beneficial, or regulatory, immune response that can prevent type 1 diabetes. The DNA vaccines are currently being developed for the clinic in collaboration with BayHill therapeutics.
In addition, Dr. von Herrath's team is studying how introducing immune response modifiers, such as small molecules named "cytokines" or certain antibodies, get the immune system back on track, stopping it from attacking the body's own cells. His laboratory is collaborating with a major diabetes consortium in the United States and Australia, supported in part by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Medical Research Council in Australia, on developing this strategy. This approach has proved effective in animals in an advanced stage of type 1 diabetes, and the hope is that this will translate to human patients.
Viral infections and the diseases they cause can be modulated through similar pathways. In parallel to the approach followed by the laboratory for type 1 diabetes, the focus is on developing treatments that will be effective after the infection has occurred.
Assistant: Priscilla Colby