All forms of diabetes are due to failure of the beta cells of the pancreas to produce sufficient insulin to meet the metabolic needs of the individual in whom the disease develops. The generation of new beta cells with patient-matched genotypes will benefit patients with type 1 diabetes, where beta cells are lost. It will likely also benefit other forms of diabetes.
We have made significant progress in the differentiation of stem cells into functional beta cells. We are now able to reliably obtain cultures consisting of 50% or more beta cells from stem cells expressing insulin. These cells are grown in the clusters as shown in the image, with the green fluorescence representing insulin. You can readily see that all the clusters have a majority of green cells. Our experiments with these stem cell islets have a dual purpose: to answer basic research questions, why and how beta cells fail in diabetes. And in transplantation experiments into mice, we test the safety and efficacy of stem cell derived beta cells to protect mice from diabetes. We have recently been able to show that our beta cells can protect mice from diabetes. To address the issue of autoimmunity, we are working with Dr. Megan Sykes using mice that have a personalized immune system.
We are very fortunate to have team of scientists with complementary skills, and to have your support in this work.
Dieter Egli, PhD
Maimonides Assistant Professor of Developmental Cell Biology
Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, Columbia University
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