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Ce projet est porté par l’association Robert Debré pour la recherche médicale


The pancreas plays a crucial role in nutritional homeostasis through the synthesis and secretion of hormones and enzymes. This organ includes three main tissue types: endocrine, acinar, and ductal cells. The exocrine pancreas is composed of acinar cells and a highly branched ductal epithelium, whereas endocrine cells are aggregated into islets of Langerhans. The latter correspond to specialized micro- organs consisting of four different cell subtypes, α-, b-, δ-, and PP cells, which produce the hormones glucagon, insulin, somatostatin, and PP (Pancreatic Polypeptide), respectively. Insulin and glucagon function coordinately to control glucose homeostasis, whereas somatostatin and PP regulate the secretion of other hormones and exocrine enzymes.

Diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose levels, which, in most cases, result from the inability of the pancreas to secrete sufficient amounts of insulin. While the autoimmune-mediated destruction of insulin-producing b-cells causes type 1 diabetes (T1D), type 2 diabetes (T2D) results from b-cell failure and eventual loss over time. Current treatments of diabetes fail to strictly restore normoglycemia and, in the case of T1D, even appear as rather palliative, replacing defective insulin secretion by exogenous insulin injections. Therefore, replenishing the pancreas with new functioning b-cells and/or maintaining the health of the remaining b-cells represent critical strategies for the treatment of both conditions. However, strategies aiming to restore new functional b-cells need to consider the underlying mechanisms of b-cell destruction or dysfunction and prevent diabetes recurrence. For T1D, any expansion of b-cells could trigger the autoimmune response responsible for their initial destruction and lead to the eventual loss of newly formed b-cells.

In this context, using the mouse as a model system, it was recently demonstrated that b-cell neogenesis can be forced using α-cells as a source. For instance, through the administration of GABA, it was shown that α-cells could be both regenerated and converted into b-like cells, such cells being able to reverse the consequences of chemically induced diabetes.


Building upon the previous results, we developed a bi-partite approach aiming at:

These experiments open the possibility that a treatment inducing the neoformation of b-cells may prevent the development of type 1 diabetes; whether it generates, a form of immune tolerance should be addressed.