The PDRC is delighted to announce that PDRC Associate Research Scientist C.C. King is one of eight UC San Diego scientists to be awarded significant funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Dr. King will receive $1,313,649 to study the role of microRNAs (single-stranded RNA molecules) in human embryonic stem cell differentiation, a series of changes cells must undergo to become a specific cell type, with a defined function.
In this project, Dr. King and colleagues at the PDRC will examine the role of microRNAs in the generation of insulin-producing beta cells. Dr. King hopes that better understanding of stem cell differentiation will lead researchers to promising type 1 diabetes therapies.
"Exploring the role microRNAs play in differentiation of stem cells into pancreatic precursor cells has great potential," according to Dr. King, "We can enhance our ability to generate cells for therapeutic value."
Of the several factors that contribute to stem cell differentiation, microRNAs play an important role in turning genes on and off throughout the differentiation process. The King Lab wants to understand how microRNAs impact the chemical structure and formation of the embryonic tissue that eventually turns into pancreatic beta cells.
Creating new ways to generate functional beta-cells is one of many strategies scientists at the PDRC and elsewhere believe will contribute to the cure of type 1 diabetes. The complexities of the disease require a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach. The PDRC is optimistic that Dr. King's work will leverage a trove of scientific discovery to bring us closer to the cure.