This project is of relevance to the areas of islet biology and developmental biology of the pancreas where there is a significant dependency upon the use of animals for diabetes research and therapy because of inaccessibility to healthy human tissue and an absence of human β-cell lines.
We have recently derived a panel of four human pancreatic endocrine progenitor cell (PEPC) lines. These cells are stable in culture and can be induced to form insulin-producing cells. We believe these cell lines will make a significant contribution to reducing and replacing the numbers of animals used in this field and will provide significant advantages over existing model systems.
Our project will develop protocols to optimize the long-term stability of the cell lines in xeno-free (animal-product free) cell culture conditions, and the induction of PEPC lines to insulin-secreting cells. We will document their functional capacity and global gene changes associated with these processes and thereby validate these cells as a xeno-free model for diabetes research.