Stem Cell derived beta cells
We are using stem cells to investigate the cellular and molecular biology of diabetes. Diabetes is a disorder characterized by a loss of beta cell mass, and/or a loss of beta cell-autonomous function, leading to a deficiency of insulin and deranged regulation of blood glucose. Diabetes can be caused by specific mutations involved in beta cell function. These mutations represent the mechanisms by which beta cells can fail, and thereby provide a suitable system for study of beta cell failure, and potentially provide suitable targets for therapy. Stem cells carry a dual promise, in research to understand beta cell dysfunction, but also directly for therapy. Because of the limited ability of beta cells to regenerate, an exogenous source of beta cells for transplantation could be therapeutically useful. We have recently shown that human oocytes have the ability to reprogram a somatic cell to a pluripotent state. More recently, we have been able to derive diploid stem cell lines by somatic cell nuclear transfer, including from a patient with type 1 diabetes. The long-term goal of this research is to generate replacement cells for the treatment of diabetes.