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Pancreatic Islets

Pancreatic Islets

Type I Diabetes

Type I diabetes affects over 2 million people in the U.S. alone. Although insulin remains the cornerstone of treatment, long-term studies indicate that insulin alone is insufficient to prevent the microvascular complications of diabetes that affect the eye, kidney, and systemic vasculature. Islet cell transplantation has recreated the endogenous control over blood sugar that the beta cell normally provides. Therefore, a renewable source of pancreatic islet cells would be of great therapeutic benefit.

Experiments are underway to acquire detailed gene expression data sets from fluorescently labeled pancreatic progenitor populations that have been subjected to gain- and loss-of-function perturbations with various genes and factors. The expression data sets are being used in conjunction with the SysCODE Computational and Genome Science Team to construct first-order gene regulatory networks that will in turn be integrated with other types of data to develop a molecular blueprint for beta cell and islet cell development. Proteomic data sets for adult and embryonic human and mouse islets and beta cells are also being acquired. Additional efforts are devoted to reconstituting the late stages in beta cell and islet development from ES cells by fabricating scaffolds that provide appropriate extracellular matrix.

Juvenile Diabetes Statistics

  • 1 in 600 children or adolescents have diabetes
  • Child cell phone monitoring software
  • 20.8 million Americans with diabetes; 6.2 million undiagnosed
  • Insulin alone inadequate to halt disease complications