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Paraish Misra, MD

Award: KRESCENT Fellowship
Institution: University of Toronto
Year: 2018-2021

Study title: Characterizing the potential of stem cell-derived insulin-producing cells as a treatment for diabetic nephropathy​

Lay Summary
Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure in Canada and the United States. Diabetic kidney disease is usually the result of the inadequate control of blood sugar, which is common among patients treated with standard insulin therapy. It has been demonstrated that pancreatic transplantation can normalize blood sugar levels and reverse diabetic kidney disease, but this therapy is limited by a scarcity of organs for transplantation.

Insulin-producing cells can now be generated in vitro from human stem cells, and these so-called “beta-like cells” are currently being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of diabetes. Similar to pancreatic transplantation, beta-like cells normalize blood sugar levels in diabetic animals and may thus be effective for the treatment of diabetic kidney disease.

The aim of this project is to determine whether transplantation with human beta-like cells can be used to treat diabetic kidney disease. As one of the first ever studies of its kind, these cells will be tested in an animal model of diabetes. After studying the natural course of diabetic kidney disease in this model, untreated and transplanted diabetic animals will be followed for the development of changes in kidney structure and function. In this way the effect of beta-like cells on diabetic kidney disease will be determined.

This project has the potential to identify a novel therapy for diabetic kidney disease for which few treatments are currently available. By determining the potential benefits of beta-like cell therapy, this work will hopefully contribute to their application in clinical practice and improve the quality of life of diabetic patients.