Harnessing the potential of stem cells
Cholangiocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells offer promising new possibilities for understanding biliary disorders. By creating these patient-specific liver cells, the laboratory is able to explore the genetic and epigenetic factors underlying biliary cell development and disease. These cells also offer a platform for individualized disease modeling and testing new therapies.
The Biliary Regenerative Medicine Laboratory of Robert C. Huebert, M.D., at Mayo Clinic focuses broadly on regenerative medicine strategies for the study and treatment of liver disease, with a focus on understanding and treating the cholangiopathies, a diverse group of diseases targeting the biliary tree. The laboratory's research program seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms that drive biliary fibrosis, regeneration and repair, including the signaling pathways and epigenetic events that drive these processes.
Dr. Huebert's laboratory has a National Institutes of Health-funded program dedicated to defining the molecular mechanisms of cholestatic fibrogenesis with a focus on the epigenetic regulators that drive pathologic gene expression patterns. In addition, the laboratory developed a novel method for the derivation of cholangiocytes, the specialized epithelial cells that line the intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile ducts, from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The iPSCs are embryonic stem cell-like cells that can be created from a patient's own skin cells after a simple skin biopsy, reprogrammed to pluripotency, and then differentiated into patient-specific liver cells.
In collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Regenerative Medicine Biotrust and the Center for Cell Signaling in Gastroenterology, Dr. Huebert's program is populating a liver biobank, a biorepository of iPSCs from subjects with liver disease. This unique resource will allow for individualized disease modeling, pharmacological testing and cell-therapy applications for chronic liver disease.
About Dr. Huebert
Dr. Huebert is a transplant hepatologist and a physician scientist in the Gastroenterology Research Unit at Mayo Clinic. He also serves as an associate professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Rochester, Minnesota. His research is focused on understanding the pathophysiology of cholangiopathies; defining the epigenetic mechanisms of biliary fibrosis; and using regenerative medicine strategies to treat biliary diseases.