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Broad Institute earns grant to support pathbreaking diabetes study
Date:7/21/2008

that human pancreatic tissue can be isolated and grown in the laboratory, and that in this environment, it maintains its normal physiology," said Bridget Wagner, a group leader in pancreatic cell biology and metabolic disease at the Broad Institute who is helping to lead the JDRF-funded research. "Now, the critical question is, can new beta cells be created from this tissue?"

The two-year grant from the JDRF will support the research needed to answer that question. A mainstay of the future work will involve the use of a vast chemical biology toolkit diverse collections of chemicals known as "small molecules", both for their molecular structure and their propensity to influence cells and cell behavior. "High-throughput methods enable us to analyze hundreds if not thousands of small molecules at once," said Aly Shamji, associate director of the Broad Institute's Chemical Biology Program. "The dramatic increase in throughput across a variety of scientific technologies is really transforming the kinds of problems we can tackle."

Pairing these advanced chemical tools with powerful genomic tools, which read cells' genetic information to help determine their identities, will enable the researchers to search for small molecules that promote beta cell growth and development. If successful, such discoveries would highlight the regenerative capacity of human cells, paving the way for future investigations of the approach as not only a potential treatment for diabetes, but also for a myriad of diseases that result from the degeneration of critical cell types.

"This is indeed an ambitious project," said Schreiber, who is also a professor at Harvard University and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "Part of what makes it feasible, though, is drawing together the resources and expertise of two scientific fields into the new discipline of genomic medicine. We hope the visionary support of JDRF for this unique approach will enable us to acce
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Contact: Nicole Davis
ndavis@broad.mit.edu
617-258-0952
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Source:Eurekalert

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