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A cure for Wolfram syndrome could lead to a cure for diabetes and blindness.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Patient-based therapeutics part 5 - Wolfram syndrome iPSCs

Today I would like to discuss how we use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) derived from patients with Wolfram syndrome for developing treatment. Our group as well as a group in Columbia University have created iPS cells from patients with Wolfram syndrome.

What are induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells)?
iPS cells are a type of stem cells that can be generated directly from adult cells, including skin cells. We can make pancreatic beta cells and neurons from these iPS cells.

How can we use Wolfram syndrome iPS cells for treatment?
We can expect that Wolfram syndrome patients iPS cell lines and Wolfram iPS cell-derived beta cells to be a cornerstone for developing novel therapeutic modalities for Wolfram syndrome and other diseases involving endoplasmic reticulum (ER) dysfunction. We can utilize these cells to screen and identify drugs for treating patients with Wolfram syndrome and other ER-associated diseases.

Regenerate Damaged Tissues
In the future, we can utilize these cells to regenerate damaged tissues including pancreatic beta cells, retinal ganglion cells (eye cells), and neurons in patients with Wolfram syndrome. Rapid progress in genetic editing technologies and regenerative medicine will make it possible to correct WFS1 mutations in patient-specific iPSC lines and regenerate patients’ damaged cells.

Our current progress
1. Using these Wolfram iPS cells, we have identified a drug target for developing treatment (our manuscript is in review.)
2. As I reported before, we are currently testing the efficacy of five different drugs using iPS cell-derived neurons.
3. We are correcting a WFS1 gene mutation by genetic editing and making eye cells using these iPS cells.

We should make the best use of these cells to develop treatments for Wolfram syndrome, efforts that may lead to breakthroughs in diabetes treatment. I have articulated my strategy in the article just published in Diabetes.