The Blue Helmet Soldiers of the Immune System

In people with type 1 diabetes (T1D), misguided immune cells target their own bodies. At the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), Prof. Carolin Daniel is researching why this immune system imbalance occurs and how it can be reversed.

In this microscopic image, Tregs have been coloured red. DZD scientist Carolin Daniel has made regulatory T-cells the focus of her scientific work. © Helmholtz Munich

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that usually first appears in early childhood or adolescence. In this disease, misguided immune cells target and destroy the cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin. Those suffering from the disease will be dependent on artificial insulin for the rest of their lives. Prof. Carolin Daniel, an immunologist at DZD and Helmholtz Munich, aims to find out what causes this immune system imbalance. Regulatory T-cells, known as Tregs, are the focus of her research work. Tregs normally prevent the body’s own cells from being attacked. However, with the onset of T1D, this protective function does not work as it should.

In an interview with the DZG magazine SYNERGIE, Daniel explains the role Tregs play in the onset of the disease, the approaches she and her team are working on, and how the findings will be used to develop new therapeutic approaches.

Link to the article (in German)

Current, complete issue of SYNERGIE

SYNERGIE has received several awards for its design. Here is an approach of a microscopic image with the coloured Tregs. © SYNERGIE, wirdesign


Research for health – under this motto, the German Centers for Health Research (DZG) report twice a year on projects and achievements in translational research in the DZG magazine SYNERGIE. The magazine for health research shows how interdisciplinary and networked research can help people achieve better health. The magazine is published in a print and an online version (

The German Centers for Health Research (DZG)
The goal of the German Centers for Health Research is translational research: the accelerated development of medical innovations. On the initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, six centers were founded between 2009 and 2011 to better understand the causes of widespread diseases and to transfer research results from the laboratory to practice more quickly. The centers are dedicated to the following diseases: Cancer (DKTK), neurodegenerative diseases (DZNE), infectious diseases (DZIF), diabetes (DZD), lung diseases (DZL) and cardiovascular diseases (DZHK).
To this end, a total of 36 medical faculties and university hospitals work together with around 90 non-university institutes of the Helmholtz Association, the Leibniz Association, the Max Planck Society, the Fraunhofer Society and departmental research institutes of the federal government. Furthermore, there are collaborations with scientists in Germany and internationally.