Researchers are trying to create insulin-producing beta cells from patient-derived iPSCs.

Maike Sander, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine has been awarded nearly $5 million by the Beta Cell Biology Consortium (BCBC) to lead a global interdisciplinary team in cell therapy research for type 1 diabetes. The aim is to generate replacement insulin-producing beta cells from patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells.

The $4,950,000 grant is shared with Karl Willert, Ph.D., director of the UCSD Human Stem Cell Core Facility. He will apply a screening platform for cellular microenvironments to beta cell differentiation. Additional participants include labs at the University of Pennsylvania and in Barcelona as well as a San Diego-based biotech company.

The major focus of Dr. Sander’s current research is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the ability of pluripotent stem cells to produce the different cell types of the pancreas. Her goal is to be able to instruct patient-derived pluripotent stem cells to become beta cells.

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