The existence of pancreatic stem cells remains a controversy as only limited evidence is published. Our team has recently uncovered a yet unidentified cell population in the pancreatic duct. These cells are located near or inside the duct lining (a suggested pancreatic stem cell niche) and express ΔNp63. Importantly, cells with similar location and ΔNp63 expression in other organs are basal cells with (cancer) stem cell potential. We hypothesize that a comparable role could be attributed in the pancreas .
We specifically aim at functionally characterizing pancreatic ΔNp63+ cells in (1) embryonic mouse pancreas development and (2) in organoid-based models, derived from healthy human pancreas, with overexpression. The general aim is thus to characterise this population of ductal cells, a study that would have broad implications in the field of developmental biology, regenerative medicine and cancer