Coaxing Human Stem Cells into Insulin-Producing Beta Cells

Center Director Matthias Hebrok, PhD, and his lab colleagues have optimized existing culture conditions to increase the number of pancreas progenitor cells and insulin-producing cells from human stem cells. Their current studies indicate that they are getting closer to generating functional beta cells for transplantation purposes.

To create effective cell therapy treatments for type 1 diabetes patients, a renewable source of insulin-producing beta cells must be created. Human stem cells offer one of the best opportunities to generate these new beta cells.

While tremendous advances have been made over the past several years, not all of the signals that regulate the development of beta cells from stem cells have been identified. This past year, the Hebrok Lab successfully identified another set of signals that guide and promote pancreas cell types to form beta cells, and also provide valuable information on the timing of the signaling events critical for this beta cell formation.