Year 1

This award has supported the development of several new classes of artificial proteins designed to facilitate production of glucose-sensitive cells for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. We are exploring methods for controlled differentiation of glucose-sensitive cells from progenitor cells isolated from adult human pancreas. In our first year, we have prepared two new classes of artificial extracellular matrix (aECM) proteins, achieved targeted levels of elasticity in aECM gels to be used for cell encapsulation, demonstrated that cells can be encapsulated in and released from aECM gels without loss of viability, and shown that encapsulated cells maintain their insulin expression levels for at least 24 hours. These experiments lay the groundwork for the development of an important new source of cells for treatment of diabetic patients.