As a researcher who does both basic science and clinical research, Kevan Herold, MD, is ideally positioned to engage the basic science community in translational research that benefits patients.
After spending 20 years doing research and teaching at the University of Chicago and Columbia University, Dr. Herold joined Yale in 2006 as the first recruit of the Human and Translational Immunology (HIT) program. He is widely recognized for his work on anti-CD3, a monoclonal antibody that quiets the T cells responsible for destroying insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Starting in preclinical models and moving to investigations in humanized mice, Dr. Herold and his collaborators found that anti-CD3 induced T cells to migrate from the circulatory and lymph systems to the small intestine, where they produced the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-10. When the cells returned to circulation, they had become regulators of the immune response that play a role in arresting the destruction of beta cells.
He has translated this work to clinical trials in patients, where he has shown that anti-CD3 has a significant effect on preserving insulin production in patients with new onset Type 1 diabetes. He also developed a novel assay to measure beta cell death by determining the level of insulin DNA in the blood that contains epigenetic markers that identify it as being of beta cell origin. He most recently used this assay in subjects at risk for Type 1 diabetes that has challenged previous notions of disease mechanisms.
Dr. Herold serves as director of the TrialNet Center at Yale, part of a consortium that conducts clinical trials to prevent Type 1 diabetes in those who are at high risk of developing the disease and treat newly diagnosed patients. Relatives of people with Type 1 diabetes have a 10 to 15 times greater risk for developing the disease than people with no family history. Family members are screened for diabetes-related antibodies; those who test positive can participate in studies designed to test medications – including an unprecedented multicenter trial with anti-CD3 - to prevent the disease from occurring. Dr Herold is also collaborating on studies to identify biomarkers in at-risk patients who progress to Type 1 diabetes.
The treatments Dr. Herold is developing may have an impact on the lives of people who haven’t yet developed diabetes or aren’t aware they are at risk for developing it. “These are the people we’ll ultimately be able to help and that’s quite a strong motivation,” he said.
In his role as YCCI’s deputy director, Dr. Herold has been instrumental in developing the Immune Monitoring Core and establishing a centralized biorepository for storing and tracking samples that is linked to Yale’s clinical research management system. “The depth it adds to the research is phenomenal,” he said.
For more on Dr. Herold, click here.