New project can ultimately help facilitate improved treatment for diabetes – University of Copenhagen

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07 December 2018

New project can ultimately help facilitate improved treatment for diabetes

New project

The project "Quantifying the topological events connecting tubulogenesis and beta-cell differentiation" studies the mechanics that underlie the creation of tubes and insulin-producing cells in the developing pancreas.

The project is a collaboration between Aasa Feragen (DIKU) and Pia Nyeng and Henrik Semb (DanStem) funded by a project grant on DKK 2,100,000 from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

About the project

During fetal development of the pancreas, the tubular transportation system develops from a network-like structure with loops to a tree-like structure. This change is necessary for allowing flow of enzymes from the pancreas into the intestines.

The researchers will test whether this remodeling also influences the birth of insulin producing cells, as preliminary findings by Semb/Nyeng shows an associated increase in the creation of insulin-producing cells.

From a computer science perspective, the goal of the project is to detect the network and its structural transitions from microscopy images, and to quantitatively confirm the correlation between the development of network structure and insulin-producing cells. This includes both segmentation of microscopy images, computational topology to detect and quantify structural transitions, and spatial statistics to link the structural transitions with the generation of insulin-producing cells.

From a biological perspective, the project aims to improve our understanding of the development of insulin-producing cells, which could ultimately help facilitate improved treatment for diabetes.

New PhD student at DIKU

Since 15 October 2018, Kasra Arnavaz has been employed as a PhD student at DIKU in the Image Analysis, Computational Modelling and Geometry Section (IMAGE). He received his master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology in Iran working on control laws to stabilize fractional-order systems. Ever since then he has taken a great interest in artificial intelligence and has now shifted his focus to imaging.

In addition to Kasra, who is jointly supervised by Aasa Feragen and Pia Nyeng, the project also includes a research assistant hired at Danstem.