Cell Supply / Alternative Sources
One of the most critical challenges we face in our commitment to cure diabetes is to develop new sources of insulin-producing cells. Donor tissue is in short supply and, as a result, we must develop alternative sources of viable, insulin-producing cells.
Our work in stem cell development has the enormous potential to create a limitless supply of insulin-producing cells. We've tested a number of different proteins used to reprogram stem cells and Dr. Ricardo Pastori, Director of the Molecular Biology Laboratory at the DRI, will report on the latest research involving a slightly modified protein known as TAT-MafA. Study results show that delivering MafA proteins into an embryo of a pregnant mouse resulted in a much faster maturation of their beta cells. The pancreas of the newborn pups also had twice as much insulin as the control animals, and their islets were bigger, better formed, and overall, exhibited traits of better functioning islets. The study was carried out in collaboration with the DRI's Dr. Juan Dominguez-Bendala and appears in the most recent issue of the Public Library of Science One (PLoS One).