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Presenter Profile: Designer Beta Cells


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Designer Beta Cells

Friday, June 23, at 3:45 p.m. PT
Room 33
San Diego Convention Center

Presentation: How do we manage immunogenicity of stem cell-derived beta cells?

Audrey Parent, PhD
Audrey Parent, PhD

Audrey Parent, PhD

Associate Adjunct Professor,
University of California, San Francisco

What is your presentation about?
Successful clinical translation of stem cell therapies requires overcoming the major roadblock of immune rejection due to alloimmune responses and islet-specific autoimmune responses against transplanted beta cells. Having access to robust preclinical models to test immune evasion strategies is thus critical to accelerate clinical translation of beta cell replacement therapies. To address this challenge, we have optimized a new platform that enables the study of autoimmune interactions between genetically engineered stem cell-derived islets and human T cells.

What makes this topic important in 2023?
Recent advances in genetic engineering methods have the potential to profoundly impact future cell therapy efforts since they enable the creation of immune evasive stem cell grafts, potentially allowing their survival in the absence of long-term immunosuppression. The development of better preclinical models is critical to accelerate identification of strategies that can efficiently protect stem cell-derived beta cells from immune rejection.

How did you become involved with this area of diabetes research or care?
I have been working on the development of stem cell therapies for more than a decade and have been lucky enough to witness the extraordinary progress made in the field of stem cell differentiation into beta cells in recent years. As we now move closer to clinical translation, my interest is shifting to immune protection of these stem cell-derived beta cells as it remains a major barrier to widespread adoption of cell therapy for the treatment of diabetes.

How do you think your presentation will impact diabetes research or care?
The integration of genetically modified stem cell-derived islets into models of type 1 diabetes will enable mechanistic investigations of autoimmune responses without the confounding contribution of alloimmunity. This work has the potential to facilitate validation of promising new therapeutics targeting human beta cells and/or immune cells.

What are you most looking forward to at the 83rd Scientific Sessions?
Connecting with trainees and colleagues as well as learning about the latest discoveries in the field.