The main goal of current McGowan Institute diabetes research is to better discern normal in vivo pancreatic beta cell differentiation. We can then later apply this knowledge to create cells for replacement therapy and cure type 1 diabetes.
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George Gittes, MD, and his research team study signals outside of cells since they can apply such pathways to current stem cells.
Early data in stem cell labs has shown some success with changing these stem cell groups toward an insulin-positive phenotype.
The focus of the study is on the use of hPSCs to make pancreatic islets in a lab dish or test tube. A major goal of the research is to find a way to promote blood vessel growth in islets.
Studies suggest this method will lead to higher success and enhanced function after stem cell transplant.
Another study highlights the promise of reprogramming a person’s own islet cells to become insulin-producing beta cells.
The McGowan Institute's Kathryn Whitehead, PhD, from Carnegie Mellon, is leading this study.
Her future research will look at:
A clinically viable delivery method that promotes high levels of mRNA in pancreatic cells will help us achieve the in vivo method.