Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Description of Research

Our team studies cell differentiation and tissue regeneration in the pancreas. Our aim is to find ways to generate insulin-producing islet cells (beta cells) which can be used in cell transplantation for diabetes patients. Alternatively, we seek to induce endogenous beta cell regeneration in the diabetic pancreas by pharmacological treatment. Diabetes is a major metabolic disease characterized by an absolute (Type-1) or relative (Type-2) deficiency in number of functional beta cells, the cells that regulate blood glucose levels by secreting insulin.

The major issues that we investigate are:

  • Which cells in the adult pancreas can act as islet progenitor or stem cells?
  • Which extracellular factors (growth factors, hormones, cytokines, extracellular matrix) regulate islet cell (re-)generation?
  • How can differentiated cells like exocrine pancreatic cells be reprogrammed into islet beta cells (transdifferentiation)?
  • How can beta cells be protected against injuries leading to decrease in beta cell number and diabetes?

We have developed in vivo and in vitro models to study beta cell regeneration, cellular transdifferentiation, progenitor cell differentiation and beta cell survival.


©2015-2016 • DIFF • Vrije Universiteit Brussel • Faculteit Geneeskunde & Farmacie • Laarbeeklaan 103 • 1090 Jette • Tel.: 02/477.44.57 • lucbo@vub.ac.be