Stem Cell Based Therapies for Patients With Type 1 Diabetes
(Brey, Opara, Wang, Xiang)
The use of stem cells to regenerate functional pancreatic β cells has been considered an appealing therapeutic model for Type I diabetes patients who lack the ability to produce enough insulin. The goal of our research is to reproduce a sufficiently high number of human embryonic stem cells, which can be further steered in to insulin producing cells. We are establishing methods for encapsulated human embryonic stem cell (hESC) culture and differentiation toward islet-like cells. Cell encapsulation can not only provide immuno-protection of hESCs against the host immune system in cell transplantation, but also help hESCs pre-establish the microenvironment prior to transplantation for consistent cell functionality in the host body. The research also makes contributions to embryonic stem cell biology in revealing the importance of microenvironments, including biological factors, cell-cell interactions, cell-matrix interactions and mechanical stresses, on stem cell proliferation and linage-specific differentiation.