Joslin Diabetes Center launches research section on developmental and stem cell biology

joined Joslin from the laboratory of world-renowned stem cell researcher Irving Weissman, M.D., at Stanford University School of Medicine. She is studying the migration and function of blood-forming stem cells, which are capable of regenerating the entire blood system and one of the only types of stem cells currently used through bone marrow transplantation for the treatment of human diseases (including leukemia, lymphoma, immune deficiency and others). Transplantation of blood-forming stem cells may also be used someday to help people with diabetes, either by aiding in blocking the autoimmune process that causes type 1 diabetes, or by allowing patients to better tolerate islet transplants without the need for prolonged use of powerful immunosuppressive drugs.

In related studies, using strategies that previously have been successful in identifying precursor cells in the blood system, Dr. Wagers also is working to identify additional tissue-specific adult stem cell populations in bone marrow, skeletal muscle, the heart and the pancreas that may function robustly to regenerate or repair damaged adult tissues. The identification of such cells may have important implications for treating many of the long-term complications of diabetes. In addition, this comprehensive analysis of adult stem cell developmental potential will provide insights into the fundamental principles and limitations guiding adult stem cell function, and may ultimately suggest new treatment options for multiple degenerative disorders.

Birth Defects in the Offspring of Women with Diabetes Targeted

Long-time Joslin researcher Mary Loeken, Ph.D., who transferred from the Section on Cellular and Molecular Physiology, is studying the underlying causes of birth defects in diabetic pregnancy. Dr. Loeken and her colleagues have found that birth defects, which occur two to five times more frequently in the pregnancies of women who have diabetes, result from failure to induce

Contact: Marjorie Dwyer
Joslin Diabetes Center

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