PI: Yagna Jarajapu
Title: Targeting the ß-Splice Variant of TERT in CD34+ Cells for Diabetic Vascular Disease
Funding Agency: American Heart Association – Transformative Project Award
Summary: Diabetes increases the risk for a multitude of complications, including peripheral artery disease characterized by lack of blood flow to limbs. Stem cells are capable of repairing damaged blood vessels and maintain the blood flow however the reparative functions are impaired in diabetes. Jarajapu’s laboratory research found a gene variant called beta-TERT is highly expressed in the diabetic stem cells. This variant impaired stem cell functions by inducing mitochondrial damage. The research funded by American Heart Association will test if blockade of this variant will restore the reparative functions of diabetic stem cells and thereby enhance the revascularization outcomes of cell-based therapies for diabetic vascular diseases. The study will be carried out in cells derived from diabetic subjects and mouse models of diabetes with peripheral artery disease.