Patient-specific hiPSCs for understanding diabetes disease mechanisms



Diabetes is a debilitating chronic disease that is spirally out of control. Fundamentally, the progressive failure of pancreatic beta cells results in decreased insulin secretion, ultimately giving rise to hyperglycaemia and overt diabetes. Given that there is a lack of access to pancreatic islets from diabetic patients with defined gene mutations or variants, the use of diabetic-patient-specific human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and their differentiation into pancreatic beta-like cells will provide an inexhaustible source of material for 1) in vitro disease modelling to study diabetes-related mechanisms, 2) developing small molecules that can enhance human beta cell replication and even 3) transplantation therapy.

Here, I will highlight our efforts in recruiting various types of diabetic patients, obtaining skin biopsies or peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), deriving hiPSCs from these somatic cells and differentiating them into pancreatic cells. I will also provide an example of subjecting these diabetic-hiPSCs through a pancreatic differentiation protocol for in vitro disease modelling of diabetes. Overall, it will be evident that disease modelling of human diabetes via the use of diabetic-hiPSCs will provide novel insights into the development of diabetes and its complications.

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Patient-specific hiPSCs for understanding diabetes disease mechanisms

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