Researchers and clinicians at Joslin Diabetes Center have established a Center for Cell-Based Therapy for Diabetes (CCTD), the goal of which is to lead the development and translation of cell-based interventions to treat and cure diabetes and its complications. This opportunity has been created by recent groundbreaking discoveries in converting stem cells into functional insulin-producing beta cells, the identification of new growth factors that stimulate beta cell regeneration, novel insights on improving treatments of diabetic complications, and evolving technologies for detection, modulation and protection against the immune responses.
A major part of CCTD, led by its interim director Dr. Gordon Weir, is the participation and coordination of program activities with the Boston Autologous Islet Replacement Therapy (BAIRT) program. This large consortium consists of Joslin, the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Semma Therapeutics. BAIRT aims to perform autologous stem cell derivation to clinical-grade beta cells that can provide personalized therapy for people with diabetes. The program is expected to provide the clinical proof of principle that such a stem cell therapy will be safe and effective in regulating blood sugar levels. “We hope the collaboration of these leading Boston institutions with Joslin will soon result in the first demonstration of using patients’ own cells to correct diabetes,” said Dr. Weir.