Advisory: Give yourself extra time when travelling by car to Toronto General Hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, or Toronto Rehab University Centre. City of Toronto construction on University Ave. may cause delays.
At UHN, we strive to deliver Compassionate Care & Caring. Learn more about the services and supports that are available to you throughout your journey.
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.
At the heart of everything we do at UHN are our Healthcare Professionals. Refer a patient to one of our 12 medical programs. Learn more about the resources and opportunities available for professional growth.
University Health Network has grown to be one of the largest research and teaching hospital networks in Canada - pioneers in improving the lives of patients. Our long history of health professions education at Toronto General, Toronto Western, Princess Margaret and Toronto Rehab hospitals has consistently advanced the science of education.
University Health Network is a health care and medical research organization in
Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The scope of research and complexity of cases at UHN has made us a national and international
source for discovery, education and patient care.
Being touched by illness affects us in different ways. Many people want to give back to the community
and help others. At UHN, we welcome your contribution and offer different ways you can help so you can find one that suits you.
The Newsroom is the source for media looking for information about UHN or trying to connect with one
of our experts for an interview. It's also the place to find UHN media policies and catch up on our news stories, videos, media releases,
podcasts and more.
Looking at things from a different angle can often lead to new and better solutions. That's because a fresh perspective can help to inspire creativity, innovative thinking and collaboration.
It's also why
Dr. Cristina Nostro, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute Scientist, and her team recently embarked on
a new collaborative project to solve a particularly difficult research problem: how to reliably isolate a specific pancreatic cell type capable of improving current treatments for type I diabetes.
Type I diabetes is a chronic condition in which cells in the pancreas—known as beta cells—are destroyed so little to no insulin is produced. Without insulin, the body is unable to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range. When blood sugar levels remain consistently high for a prolonged period of time, serious conditions can develop, including heart disease, vision loss, kidney disease and nerve damage.
Transplanting healthy beta cells into the pancreas can restore insulin production and decrease the number of insulin injections needed to maintain normal sugar levels. However, widespread use of this treatment is hampered by a limited supply of donor beta cells for transplantation.
Using stem cells, Dr. Nostro has addressed this issue by developing a reproducible method for generating large numbers of cells that can safely give rise to insulin-producing beta cells. The technique, which mimics what occurs during pancreas development, forces stem cells to mature into daughter stem cells (pancreatic progenitors) that then develop into insulin-producing beta cells.
Unfortunately, the technique also produces progenitors that mature into cells that do not produce insulin. The problem: these contaminating progenitors need to be removed before the therapeutic insulin-producing cells can be safely used in the clinic.
Dr. Nostro teamed up with
Dr. Thomas Kislinger to explore an entirely new approach to solving this problem. Together they identified specific proteins that are found on the surface of the pancreatic progenitors. They then used one of the proteins—known as Glycoprotein 2—to isolate the pancreatic progenitors and remove the contaminating cells. This allowed them to not only control the number but also the purity of the newly generated insulin-producing cells.
"Our long-term goal is to cure type I diabetes using transplants of insulin-producing cells, so it is crucial to have cells that are safe and pure," explains Dr. Nostro. "The technique we've developed provides a better, more reliable method for generating large quantities of these cells for use in the clinic."
Supported by the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the National Institutes of Health, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center.