Prof. Kenji Osafune

Short Bio

Dr. Osafune graduated from Kyoto University, Japan in 1996. He completed his nephrology residency in Kyoto University Hospital and its affiliated hospitals. In 2000, he started basic researches on kidney development and regeneration as a graduate student at Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo (Prof. Makoto Asashima), then he worked on pancreatic regeneration using hESCs/iPSCs as a postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Douglas A. Melton at Harvard Stem Cell Institute/Department of Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology, Harvard University, USA. He became Principal Investigator at Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), Kyoto University, Japan, in 2008. In 2014, he was appointed Professor at Department of Cell Growth and Differentiation, CiRA, Kyoto University. He is on the editorial board of Differentiation and StemJournal. His major research interests are the development of regenerative therapies against diabetes, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and liver disorders.

iPSC technology-based regenerative therapy for diabetes

Diabetes is caused by an absolute or relative insufficiency of insulin which is secreted from pancreatic β-cells, resulting in impaired glucose metabolism in entire body. The supplementation of β-cell function is an effective therapeutic strategy, but the insufficient cell supply is a major obstacle to this intervention. Regenerative medicine strategies using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are among the candidate approaches to solve the problems. Based on the knowledge of developmental biology, the stepwise differentiation strategy by mimicking pancreatic development has been adopted. Our group developed the directed differentiation methods to generate transplantable pancreatic lineage cells from human iPSCs. In addition, we are examining the therapeutic potential of human iPSC-derived pancreatic cells by transplantation into diabetes mouse models, and recent results indicate therapeutic effectiveness. Further elucidation of the mechanisms of pancreatic development and establishing the efficient differentiation methods from human iPSCs into pancreatic lineage cells will be required for the development of regenerative medicine strategies for diabetes, such as cell transplantation therapy and new drug discovery. In this presentation, I would like to summarize the current status of pancreatic regeneration researches using human iPSCs including our results and discuss the future perspective of iPSC technology-based regenerative treatment of diabetes.