Large-scale culture of human stem cells in reactors, producing billions of cells in small clusters
My research is focused on human pluripotent stem cell differentiation to mature cells and tissues for applications in cellular therapy and drug screening. We utilize step-by-step differentiation approaches to recapitulate signals found during embryonic development and doing so in highly scalable reactors. We are primarily focused on pancreatic endocrine cell differentiation with many topics of interest to the Hope Center. In general, we are interested in producing mature cells and tissues, doing so in a therapeutically relevant manner, tissue engineering to control the 3D microenviroment, drug screening, and transplantation. Some current projects are as follows:
- We have been studying how endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress contributes to cellular dysfunction and stress. This is an issue in common between pancreatic endocrine and neuroendocrine cells. To help with studying this, we are collaborating with Dr. Fumihiko Urano culturing and differentiating iPS cells derived from Wolfram Syndrome patients, whom have both neurological and pancreatic dysfunction.
- We are generating pituitary cell types in collaboration with Dr. Albert Kim for the study of pituitary disorders and cancers.
- We are tissue engineering islets of Langerhans from stem cells. One component of the islet that we are evaluating is the inclusion of neurons, which are thought to be quite important for the maintenance of islet phenotype thus representing a potential connection between neurological and pancreatic dysfunction.