A Program for Cell-Based Diabetes Therapy


To develop human stem cells to restore insulin secretion function in patients with type 1 diabetes

Anticipated Impact: 

Improved and potentially curative treatment for type 1 diabetes


Type 1 (or juvenile) diabetes occurs when the body’s capacity to secrete insulin can no longer meet its needs. This, in turn, results in elevated blood glucose levels that markedly increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and other devastating complications. The prevalence of type 1 diabetes has doubled in the US over the past 30 years, and, while treatments exist, there is no cure. This grant launches the Diabetes-Stem Cell Program (DSCP), a multi-institutional effort to unite expertise in stem cell biology with that of the biology of the pancreas (the organ that produces insulin), diabetes, cell therapies, and immunology. Key objectives of the DSCP include not only the creation and commercialization of a new, cell-based method for diabetes treatment, but also the development of strategies to eliminate the risk of tumor formation in implanted cells, and optimization of methods for cell differentiation and analysis. It is anticipated that the outcomes of this research could be applied to the development of therapies for type 2 diabetes or other diseases.

Collaborating organization: Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason

See also:

Diabetes Screening and Management

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
Vincenzo Cirulli
Grantee Organization:
University of Washington
Grant Title:
A Program for Cell-Based Diabetes Therapy
Grant Cohort and Year:
2010 Program Grant (02)
Grant Period:
09/01/2011 - 08/31/2016 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
Over the past six months, we have continued making progress with our efforts to differentiate stem cells toward a pancreatic islet cell lineage. Specifically, we have identified a new class of proteins that enhance cell-to-cell communication and significantly increase the homogeneity of stem cell-derived pancreatic progenitors, that in turn we anticipate will further enhance our ability to derive large numbers of insulin-producing beta-cells. Currently we are validating this new method in multiple human and rodent stem cell lines, and we continue to investigate experimental conditions that greatly reduce the risk of teratoma development from stem cell-derived differentiated cell preparations.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact

Legislative Districts:
11, 34, 36, 37, 43, 46

Health Impacts

Diabetes Screening and Management