New Institute of Translational Stem Cell Research at Helmholtz Zentrum München

Starting August 1, Prof. Dr. Henrik Semb will head the newly established Institute of Translational Stem Cell Research at the DZD partner Helmholtz Zentrum München. This institute will be part of the Swedish scientist’s objective to develop stem cell-based replacement therapy in type 1 diabetes.

Prof. Henrik Semb. Source: Universität Kopenhagen

Semb aims to develop safe approaches for up-scaled production of insulin-producing beta cells from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). He and his team have recently made major breakthroughs towards this goal.

The scientists were able to establish a technology which allows the precursors of beta cells to be selectively isolated from a heterogeneous pool of differentiated hPSCs. As a next step, Semb and his team found new ways to specifically promote the proliferation of these beta cell precursors. Furthermore, Semb’s lab recently developed strategies for directing differentiation of beta cell precursors into mature beta cells.

"We believe that we are well on track with our efforts to develop a cell replacement therapy and that our latest breakthroughs will pave the way for manufacturing of insulin-producing beta cells for initial clinical trials," Henrik
Semb said. Semb's long-term objective is to develop a safe and scalable stem cell therapy for people with type 1 diabetes. An important milestone in the short term is the proper production of the cells following defined standards of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).*

The realization of this aim is a key element of the new strategic alliance between HMGU and Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Biology (DanStem) at the University of Copenhagen. Semb’s call as Director of the Institute of Translational Stem Cell Research happens within the scope of this cooperation. In addition to his activities at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Henrik Semb stays as Executive Director of the Danish Stem Cell Centre (DanStem), and Professor of Human Stem Cell Biology at the University of Copenhagen.