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Home › News & Events › 2024 › Research › CiRA Kyoto University announces joint research agreement with Rege Nephro and Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center Aiming to develop new treatments for diabetes through collaborative research using iPS cells


January 11, 2024

CiRA Kyoto University announces joint research agreement with Rege Nephro and Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center Aiming to develop new treatments for diabetes through collaborative research using iPS cells

Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University (Headquarters: Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Director: Jun Takahashi, hereinafter referred to as "CiRA") announces a joint research agreement with Rege Nephro Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Representative Director and CEO: Akifumi Morinaka) and Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center (Headquarters: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, CEO: Dr. Yendry Ventura Carmenate, hereinafter referred to as "ADSCC") The joint research agreement aims to developing a new treatment for diabetes using pancreatic β cells(1) derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (human iPS cells).

In this joint research, Rege Nephro and CiRA will 1) generate iPS cell-derived pancreatic β cells that do not require immunosuppression and possess enhanced functionality related to therapeutic efficacy through genetic modifications and develop them for high-quality cell therapy for patients with type 1 diabetes and 2) perform drug screening for type 2 diabetes using pancreatic β cells derived from iPS cells.

This research will be carried out in close collaboration with ADSCC, which will not only deploy the basic technology developed in the above research in the Middle East and North Africa but also play an important role by forming a base for regenerative medicine research using iPS cell technology in the region.

Rege Nephro is a venture company established in September 2019 based on the research results of Professor Kenji Osafune, who also serves as the head of the Department of Cell Growth and Differentiation at CiRA. Osafune was the first in the world to discover the existence of renal progenitor cells and has been working on the development of cell therapy for chronic kidney disease. He is also developing cell therapy for type 1 diabetes and conducting drug discovery research for type 2 diabetes in the endocrinology field.

Diabetes is caused by dysfunctions of pancreatic β cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin(2), resulting in continued high blood sugar levels and accelerated arteriosclerosis, which can lead to complications such as chronic kidney disease, cerebral infarction, and myocardial infarction. Diabetes affects 537 million people worldwide, and an additional 1.2 million people under the age of 19 have type 1 diabetes, in which pancreatic β cells are lost, thus making insulin injections essential. A novel approach for diabetes is pancreatic β cell replacement therapy, but the lack of pancreas and pancreatic islets necessary for transplantation has become a problem, and expectations are high for transplant therapy using iPS cell-derived pancreatic β cells. Professor Osafune has succeeded in producing pancreatic β cells from human iPS cells and identifying low molecular-weight compounds to specifically promote the growth of pancreatic progenitor cells(3) derived from human iPS cells.

With the start of this joint research, a powerful international team has been formed to realize the full potential of regenerative medicine for diabetes. By demonstrating team strength, we will not only accelerate the development of basic technology for clinical application but also serve as a crucial bridge for the expansion of Japanese iPS cell technology and the development of regenerative medicine research in a wide range of fields into the Middle East.

By signing a joint research agreement with CiRA and ADSCC, Rege Nephro will provide treatment to patients as soon as possible, with the mission of contributing to society by improving the lives and prognosis of patients with diabetes.

Note (1) Pancreatic β cells
They exist in a group of cells called the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas and are responsible for secreting insulin into the blood to lower blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetic patients require insulin treatment because their pancreatic β cells are destroyed by unknown pathogenic mechanisms.

Note (2) Insulin
A hormone secreted by pancreatic β cells that lowers blood sugar levels.

Note (3) Pancreatic progenitor cells
Cells in the pre-differentiation stage with the potential to differentiate into pancreatic β cells to produce and secrete insulin.

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