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2007-D-023-FEL - Abstract

Grant Information

Diabetes - Fellowship
Regulation of Pancreatic Morphogenesis in Zebrafish
Daniel Hesselson, PhD
Biochemistry and Biophysics
Funding Status
  • Completed
  • 3 years, $60,000 per year
  • 7/1/2007 to 6/30/2010


2007-D-023-FEL - Abstract
Brief Summary
"Regulation of Pancreatic Morphogenesis in Zebrafish"

Approximately 250 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus and that number is growing annually with the increasing obesity epidemic. Both common forms of diabetes, type 1 and type 2, are characterized by a decreased functional beta-cell mass. Strategies to correct the beta-cell deficit include the transplantation of stem-cell or donor derived beta-cells as well as the regeneration of lost beta-cells. Regenerative approaches will require a deep understanding of the mechanisms that instruct pancreatic development to fully restore a functional beta-cell mass in diabetic patients.

We are using zebrafish embryos to study the earliest events in the development of the pancreas and the differentiation of beta-cells. Zebrafish are particularly well suited for these studies because the embryos are optically clear and we can visualize the pancreas in live embryos. We conducted a genetic screen to find novel genes that are important for pancreas development and we are currently analyzing several of the mutants at a molecular and cellular level. In addition we discovered that the pancreas contains distinct populations of beta-cells that differ in therapeutically relevant properties. My future studies are aimed at exploiting the differences between the different sub-types of beta-cells to develop new approaches for the expansion of beta-cell mass.

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