Despite progress in producing beta cells from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) in recent years, full differentiation cannot be obtained in vitro. The HumEn project hypothesises that a fundamental understanding of the coupling between endodermal progenitor expansion and differentiation is relevant for elucidating how to a) generate glucose-responsive beta cells from hPSCs in vitro, and b) generate sufficient number of beta cells to meet future clinical needs in cell therapy in diabetes. Thus, the overall aim of HumEn is to identify, understand, and expand human endodermal progenitors as a consistent and renewable source of cells for pancreatic beta cells differentiation.
We will focus on precursors from two stages of pancreatic differentiation; anterior definitive endoderm (ADE) and pancreatic endoderm (PE) progenitors, providing mechanistic insight into the signalling pathways and downstream targets that control their expansion and functional maturation into human beta cells. Rigorous in vitro (regulated insulin-release) and in vivo (protection against experimentally induced diabetes in mice) testing of insulin-producing cells will ensure a functional end product. The consortium proposes to address these problems by a unique combination of models and experimental approaches, including genetic, surface/biomaterial screens (3D), and cell surface antibody screens as well as cell signalling-to-transcription factor/chromatin effectors. In the end, HumEn aims to deliver a reliable and scalable protocol for directed differentiation of hPSCs into bona fide beta cells. The results of the project will not only provide answers to fundamental questions, but also deliver new concepts and knowledge of general importance for coordination of cell cycle progression and regulation of cell fate specification in stem cells/progenitors.
HumEn is highly innovative and carries excellent potential for translational output.
Field of science
- /medical and health sciences/clinical medicine/endocrinology/diabetes
- /medical and health sciences/medical biotechnology/cells technologies/stem cells
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeCP-FP - Small or medium-scale focused research project
6229 EV Maastricht