I Am Type 3
Meet Dr. Doug Melton
Co-Director, Harvard Stem Cell Institute | Co-Chair, Harvard University Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology | Dad to Two Type 1 Diabetics
With human embryonic stem cells as a starting point, Melton's team are for the first time able to produce, in the kind of massive quantities needed for cell transplantation and pharmaceutical purposes, human insulin-producing beta cells equivalent in most every way to normally functioning beta cells. He's now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line. Melton's main challenge is to understand the precursor or stem cells that give rise to the pancreas and to characterize the key gene products that specify cell fates and functions during organogenesis. Melton's goal is to understand how the pancreas normally develops and use that information to grow and develop pancreatic cells. One goal is to understand how vertebrates make an organ from undifferentiated embryonic cells. A longer-term goal has practical significance: if his studies are successful, it should be possible to apply our conclusions to human cells and provide a source of insulin-producing beta-cells for diabetics.