Genetically CRISPR-Modified Gut Stem Cells for Treatment of Diabetes

Can you imagine that your gut save us from diabetes? The recent genomic modifying tool CRISPR/Cas9 combined with stem cell technology can help modify our gut cells to combat diabetes!

Insulin insufficiency is a major cause of diabetes worldwide. Restoring insulin-producing β-cell function is thus important for diabetic prevention and treatment. Here I’m proposing a novel approach using colonic L cells as a source to derive new β-cells via CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genomic engineering. Found in the colon epithelium, L cells can secrete peptide hormones in response to elevated glucose levels and are developmentally similar to pancreatic β-cells. I have established an in vitro protocol to derive L cells from human colon stem cells. These human colon stem cells can be obtained from any patient’s tissue biopsy and expanded into a large number for the purpose of cell replacement therapy. The colon stem cells will be genetically engineered by CRISPR/Cas9 to insert the sequence of insulin at the specific genomic locus. The modified colon stem cells will be then induced to become insulin-producing L cells for transplantation into patients. This research will provide an unprecedented step toward personalized diabetic treatment.

Image courtesy of Chaiyaboot Ariyachet


Group Leader

Chaiyaboot Ariyachet, Lindau Alumnus 2018
Chulalongkorn University, Thailand