Maria Cristina Nostro

Maria Cristina Nostro, PhD

The loss of beta cells in Type I Diabetes ultimately leads to insulin dependence and major complications that are difficult to manage by insulin injections. Recent improvements in islet transplantations for the treatment of Type I Diabetes are increasing the likelihood of finding a possible cure for this disease. However, the requirement for 2-3 donors per transplantation and the scarcity of donor pancreata has launched the search for an alternative source of beta cells for cell therapy purposes. Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) offer the ability to generate these cells in vitro, with the potential to rapidly translate basic scientific discoveries to therapeutic applications.

The focus of the Nostro lab is to elucidate the signaling pathways governing the formation, expansion and maturation of pancreatic progenitors using human pluripotent stem cell directed differentiation. Through this in vitro approach we aim to understand the genetic and epigenetic program that dictates pancreatic development and beta cell maturation. Due to the very limited accessibility of the human embryo, this represents a powerful and unparalleled system to understand key human developmental processes. Furthermore, patient-specific iPSC directed differentiation will allow us to study disease development and progression in ways that were previously inconceivable.

Our long-term goal is to translate the results of our studies to the clinic and to establish in vitro culture systems for disease modeling, drug toxicity and discovery assays.

Related Links

Stem Cell Reports. 2015 Apr 1;
Nostro MC, Sarangi F, Yang C, Holland A, Elefanty AG, Stanley EG, Greiner DL, Keller G
Mol Metab. 2015 Apr;4(4):344-52
Shao W, Xiong X, Ip W, Xu F, Song Z, Zeng K, Hernandez M, Liang T, Weng J, Gaisano H, Nostro MC, Jin T
Endocrinology. 2015 Jan;1(1):8-15
Cogger K, Nostro MC
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Sep 3;110(36):14723-8
Cai EP, Wu X, Schroer SA, Elia AJ, Nostro MC, Zacksenhaus E, Woo M
Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2012 Aug;23(6):701-10
Nostro MC, Keller G
Cell Stem Cell. 2012 Apr 6;10(4):371-84
Cheng X, Ying L, Lu L, Galvão AM, Mills JA, Lin HC, Kotton DN, Shen SS, Nostro MC, Choi JK, Weiss MJ, French DL, Gadue P
Biotechnol Bioeng. 2012 Apr;109(4):853-66
Ungrin MD, Clarke G, Yin T, Niebrugge S, Nostro MC, Sarangi F, Wood G, Keller G, Zandstra PW
Diabetologia. 2012 Mar;55(3):694-706
Micallef SJ, Li X, Schiesser JV, Hirst CE, Yu QC, Lim SM, Nostro MC, Elliott DA, Sarangi F, Harrison LC, Keller G, Elefanty AG, Stanley EG



Harry Rosen Chair in Diabetes and Regenerative Medicine Research, McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine
Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology, University of Toronto