Department of Surgery investigators have received $1.8 million to develop stem cell therapies or to explore ways of making them more effective or feasible. One of the grants will fund a first-of-its-kind clinical trial that will recruit Type 1 diabetes patients in British Columbia.
Dr. Verchere’s project will edit the genome of human embryonic stem cells to make insulin-producing cells with better function and survival after transplantation into people with diabetes. They will replace a gene that creates toxic products with a safer gene, and they will insert a gene to protect the transplanted cells from immune attack. With further study, the researchers intend to prepare these modified cells for clinical trial.