Our UHN programs and services are among the most advanced in the world. We have grouped our physicians, staff, services and resources into 10 medical programs to meet the needs of our patients and help us make the most of our resources.
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Stem cell technology offers the promise of recreating, treating, and replacing diseased organs in the human body. With our research, we plan to use regenerative medicine to tackle critical diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, and liver failure.
DiabetesTo generate beta cells that can store and release insulin, we will grow stem cells in vitro using specific culture conditions. We artificially create a favourable environment for the cells to develop along the pancreatic lineage and in the end transform into the beta-like cells. In essence, we take the cells from a pluripotent state (where they can become any type of cell) to a unipotent, committed cell type, ideally a beta cell. To evaluate the efficiency of our process, we use flow cytometry, fluorescence imaging and gene expression analysis to phenotypically (by means of physical and biochemical characteristics) and molecularly characterize our final product. Additionally, we perform functional analysis both in vitro and in vivo.
Heart FailureWe use “genetic knockout” in experimental models, where we manipulate and change the expressed genes. We have applied this technique quite successfully and understood that by removing specific molecules, we can affect the heart in a certain way. We can induce the heart to regenerate itself by using these exact techniques. We use ultrasound (echocardiography) as a way to mark our progress and observe the overall physiological change in the heart. We also apply molecular biology to better understand each of the individual changes and how they are affected by our manipulations.
Liver DiseaseWe use our unique access to human liver tissue to carefully describe what a human liver actually “is”. Once described, we use technologies similar to those described above to drive multi-potential stem cells towards mature liver cells. We are developing ways of combining these cells to create artificial, outside-the-body liver units. We are also testing whether the cells, alone or in combination, can themselves be used to treat liver disease. In all of these studies, cutting-edge technologies, such as single cell RNA sequencing, are being employed.
Team & Contacts
Regenerative MedicineDr. Filio BilliaEmail:
Cell TherapyMaria Cristina NostroEmail:
Liver DiseaseDr. Nazia SelznerEmail: