DRI Resolute in Commitment to Stem Cell Research

The Diabetes Research Institute is pursuing many types of stem cells in an effort to overcome the shortage of insulin-producing cells.

Despite the continuing debate over federally-funded stem cell research, the DRI remains committed to moving this promising area of research forward. We believe stem cells from a variety of different sources could be used to alleviate the shortage of insulin-producing cells for transplant, as they have the potential to become any type of cell and are simply waiting for “instructions” to be programmed into one tissue or another.

At the 5th Annual Translational Stem Cell Conference held in New York, DRI Scientific Director Dr. Camillo Ricordi reported on recent data indicating that cells from body fat may represent an excellent source of stem cells. These adipose-derived stem cells can be easily obtained from the patient’sown subcutaneous (under the skin) tissue.  And, in experimental models, it was possible to transform at least a portion of these adipose-derived stem cells into insulin-producing cells. The preliminary data are encouraging. “We are confident that cell-based therapy and regenerative medicine strategies will play a key role in cure-focused strategies for diabetes,” says Dr. Ricordi. “While the ultimate source of stem cells is yet to be defined, it is criticially important that scientists worldwide continue to explore the potential of different sources of stem cells and related technologies.”

Fortunately, we’re able to continue our research because ongoing court rulings and appeals do not impact stem cell research funded by private sources. Historically, the DRI has relied on private support for its stem cell program, most of which has come from the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation (DRIF). As a result, we are able to pursue this area of research despite legislative controls.

At the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit, Dr. Juan Dominguez-Bendala, director of Stem Cell Development for Translational Research at the DRI, delivered a presentation on the global state of stem cell research as it relates to diabetes, including an update on stem cell research being conducted at the DRI. Dr. Dominguez-Bendala also moderated the Stem Cell Progress in Diabetes panel discussion. The World Stem Cell Summit brings together scientists and physicians from premier research institutions, hospitals and academic centers from around the globe to share cutting-edge research findings and build collaborations with members of the global science, business, policy and advocacy community.

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