Computer model may help speed the pace of type 1 diabetes research

The pace of type 1 diabetes research is often agonizingly slow, while the cost of studies remains high. This may prevent further breakthroughs in treating the disease. In an effort to remove these stumbling blocks, a team of computer scientists recently developed a virtual model that will enable researchers to test their hypotheses online rather than in clinics.

A report on the model, which was developed by the La Jolla Institute, was published in the journal Diabetes. The system uses biological information to predict the outcomes of planned research, enabling scientists to see which experiments will be the most worthwhile.

"By allowing us to pre-test our theories in computer models, we can ensure that the more time-intensive and costly process of laboratory testing is focused on the most promising therapeutic strategies, with the greatest chance of success," said Matthias von Herrath, who developed the software.

The system has already proven useful. Researchers used it to predict the results of an experiment testing the effectiveness of nasal insulin dosing. The experiment was then carried out in the laboratory. The model was able to successfully forecast the outcome of the trial.