Erica Cai Named ALPCO’s Summer 2020 Diabetes Research Travel Grant Recipient

Erica Cai Named ALPCO’s Summer 2020 Diabetes Research Travel Grant Recipient
Salem, NH, November 10, 2020 --( Today ALPCO announced Erica Cai from Harvard Medical School as the latest recipient of its Diabetes Research Travel Grant. Dr. Cai is a postdoctoral fellow from the Joslin Diabetes Center researching the mechanism of autoimmunity that leads to beta cell destruction and type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Dr. Cai initiated a project that used a genome-wide CRISPR screen approach in a mouse model for T1D to search for genetic modifications that can protect transplanted beta cells against autoimmune destruction. This innovative gene editing method recently identified renalase, which has been previously associated with T1D risk. By inhibiting renalase, she demonstrated that transplanted beta cells in mice can be protected, leading to disease inhibition or delay. Dr. Cai’s research not only indicates that renalase is a modifier of beta cell vulnerability, but that the enzyme is a potential therapeutic target to avert beta cell loss in T1D.

Dr. Cai’s research has also identified FDA-approved pargyline as a drug that can mimic the effects of renalase inhibition.

The award will allow Dr. Cai will to present her findings at a relevant diabetes conference in the coming year. Her research was recently published in Nature Metabolism.(1)

“Erica’s gene editing methodology is a remarkable application of CRISPR technology that has the promising potential to help millions of people with type 1 diabetes,” explains ALPCO’s president, Sean Conley. “We are honored to have Erica join our growing family of Diabetes Research Travel Grant recipients and look forward to continuing to support innovative investigators like her.”

The Diabetes Research Travel Grant was created by ALPCO to help advance progressive diabetes and obesity research by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early stage investigators. Through this program, ALPCO continues to stimulate and reward research applicable to the investigation and potential development of diabetes and obesity treatments, therapies and/or innovations.

Visit to learn more about the Diabetes Research Travel Grant recipients and their research.

American Laboratory Products Company (ALPCO) was founded in 1991 as an importer and distributor of immunoassay-based products for the North American life science markets. The company has since grown into a premier channel representing over 60 collaborating partners from around the globe. Today, ALPCO offers a wide range of testing solutions, providing scientists and healthcare professionals with vital tools for advancing research and improving quality of care.

(1) Cai, et al (2020). Genome-scale in vivo CRISPR screen identifies RNLS as a target for beta cell protection in type 1 diabetes. Nat Metab 2, 934–945 (2020).
Beth Lacourse