-Diabetes Mellitus cell therapy.
-Embryonic Stem Cells Biology.
-Differentiation of Stem Cells toward mesoderm “myocardial therapy”.
-Directed differentiation towards ectoderm.
Diabetes Mellitus cell therapy.
Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases among the industrialized countries and implicates a high health care expense, not only because of the disease itself but also because of other associated complications such as retinopathies, nephropathies, neuropathies, diabetic-foot and cardiovascular problems. Pancreatic islets transplant using the Edmonton protocol represents an efficient Cell therapy. Nevertheless, this technique is limited by the lack of organs and effective immunosuppression drugs. Despite all the improvements needed for this protocol, the main obstacle to face is the existing disparity between the number of potential donors and the number of the possible receptors; so far an alternative source of cells is needed.
Stem cells have two very interesting characteristics: the self-renewal capacity under controlled culture conditions and the capacity to differentiate to any of the cell types in the organism. These cells have opened a new way to come alongside the regenerative medicine. Although the possibility to generate certain cell type from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is still far, research in the self-renewal processes, differentiation and selection of the insulin producing cells and other cell types derived from mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) had given a rise to promising results that are the basis to study these processes in human stem cells. The same proposal is widespread among other areas of research such as neurodegenerative diseases, cardiac complications, osteoarthicular disease…
It is necessary to go on with the efforts of developing and improving the strategies that will allow obtaining not only insulin producing cells, but cells that are able to release the insulin in suitable amounts and at appropriate times. The restoration of cell function is not the only priority in diabetes research; new therapeutic alternatives are also required. In any case, we are facing a series of challenges that will be achieved with basic research of quality and with the commitment of transferring the results to the clinic the soonest possible.
Embryonic Stem Cells Biology.
The embryonic stem cells are cell lines that have the peculiarity of combining self-renewal and pluripotency characteristics. These cells can be maintain in culture during indefinite periods of time while keeping its ability to differentiate towards any cell type “in vitro” and “in vivo”.
Our group is interested in understanding the molecular basis of the mESCs pluripotency. Most of our current knowledge comes from studies done on mESCs. Nowadays it is known that the main requirement to maintain these cells is the Leukemia Inhibitor Factor (LIF), the mESCs also depend on the expression of the transcription factors POU5f1 “Oct4” as well as “Nanog”. The relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic signalling from mESCs begins to be understood now and many projects of our group are focused on these theme.
On the other hand, the maintenance of the hESCs depends of the signalling trough the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) pathway that must be activated exogenously by adding human recombinant FGF (hrFGF-2). Contrary to the mESCs, it is complicated to maintain undifferentiated hESCs in chemical defined media; thus many lines of research of our group pursue the identification of the specific intrinsic and extrinsic needs of the hESC’s pluripotency and the optimization of the defined culture media for there growth and maintenance.
Differentiation of Stem Cells toward mesoderm “myocardial therapy”.
Regarding the early differentiation of the stem cells, we make good use of the spontaneous as well as the induced differentiation protocols of both embryonic and adult stem cells to study the molecular mechanisms of the differentiation towards cardiac, smooth and skeletal muscle.
Directed differentiation towards ectoderm.
Most of the advances in the stem cell research have been developed for replacing lost or damaged neural cells for the neurodegenerative disease. A current line of work entails the optimization of the ectodermal differentiation protocol, and the characterization of line specific cell surface markers from the undifferentiated stage towards the neural cell lineage.
Once again we are facing a new challenge that entails the use of stem cells in possible cell therapies. Basic research will bring without a doubt new progresses that will required a rigorous scientific evaluation and a wise judgement before the application of these therapeutic approaches in the clinics.
RD12/0019/0028 (Entidad Financiadora: Instituto de Salud Carlos III, confinanciada con FEDER)
PI14/01015 (Entidad Financiadora: Instituto de Salud Carlos III, confinanciada con FEDER)
RA-120 (Entidad Financiadora: Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad)
P10-CTS-6505 (Entidad Financiadora: Consejería de Economía, Innovación, Ciencia y Empleo de la Junta de Andalucía)
FI11/00301 (Entidad Financiadora: Instituto de Salud Carlos III)