Award winner
2023 Edition
Douglas A. Melton
The laureate is co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Howard Hughes Institute of Medicine investigator, and distinguished research fellow at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, among other responsibilities. Melton has spent decades studying the possibilities of stem cells for the creation of therapies for the treatment of different diseases, such as type 1 diabetes.

Douglas Melton’s research focuses on finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. His laboratory studies the developmental biology of the pancreas, with the aim of growing and developing functional insulin-secreting pancreatic cells (islets of Langerhans). In parallel, they are investigating ways to protect beta cells from autoimmune attack.

This way, Melton’s goal is to cure diabetes by eliminating the current practice of regular blood checks and insulin injections, replacing them with transplants of insulin-producing cells, specifically pancreatic beta cells that measure glucose levels and secrete just the right amount of insulin.

Melton is currently working with his team and different pharmaceutical companies in some clinical trials on cell therapy as a new treatment for type 1 diabetes. In fact, his studies with patients who have received pancreatic islet cells transplanted together with immunosuppressive drugs have obtained great results, achieving that some of his patients were ‘cured’ for several months of their type 1 diabetes.

Jury Decision
The jury of the ABARCA PRIZE in its third edition, made up of Professor Juan Luis Arsuaga, Professor Pura Muñoz-Cánoves, Professor Philippe Sansonetti, Professor Sandra Díaz and Professor Federico de Montalvo, chaired by Professor Silvia Priori, and acting as secretary Dr José María Castellano, agrees to award the ABARCA PRIZE to Professor Douglas Melton, for his research in pancreatic regenerative therapy to cure diabetes mellitus.

He is one of the world’s leading stem cell researchers and has been working for decades to create advanced therapies for type 1 diabetes. Today, he has developed an FDA-approved type 1 diabetes cell therapy candidate with positive results in a clinical trial.

About 20 years ago, Melton began his line of research to understand the development of the pancreas, defining its lineage and the regulation of cell fate, always with the translational goal of curing diabetes.

Melton showed a way forward, which was subsequently taken up by others in many tissues. He demonstrated that pancreatic progenitors are induced by vascular signals, described the lineage of exocrine and endocrine cells, and showed how embryonic progenitors determine organ size and how islets form.

His lab was one of the first to show how transcription factors can directly reprogram adult cells, turning exocrine cells into endocrine cells. He was the first to envision how the implantation of stem cell-derived beta cells could serve as such a therapeutic.

More information

Abarca Prize Douglas Melton
Abarca Prize Douglas Melton
Abarca Prize Douglas Melton