Protection and regeneration of pancreatic beta cells

Diabetes mellitus is characterized by the failure of insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells due to chronic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and dysregulated unfolded protein response (UPR).

As diabetes is on the rise, we are seeking for therapeutic approaches that would revitalize and regenerate the remaining beta cells in diabetes patients. We are studying beta cell protective- and regenerative growth factors and small molecule compounds targeting ER stress and the UPR in vitro in primary beta cells and cell lines and in vivo in diabetes mouse models. We have discovered that ER stress regulating growth factor MANF and its derivatives can protect and restore beta cells by novel mechanism. We have developed MANF knockout and inducible transgenic mice, and combining genomic, cellular and molecular biology approaches aim to reveal the exact roles of those factors and compounds in ER stress-induced beta cell dysfunction and diabetes pathogenesis.

Our main directions are:

  • To elucidate the roles of ER stress in beta cells and diabetes pathogenesis.
  • To study whether modification UPR signaling pathways with specific factors can reduce the beta cell immunogenicity and reverse autoimmune type 1 diabetes?
  • To identify and test known and novel factors and compounds that target the UPR in stressed beta cells

Maria Lindahl, PhD, Docent
Institute of Biotechnology, HiLIFE

Biocenter 2, room 6029c
P.O. Box 56 (Viikinkaari 5D)
00014 University of Helsinki

Maria is a Principal Investigator/Associate Group Leader at BI.