Insulin-secreting cells produced by stem cells
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Results of recent experiments provide "definitive evidence" that human embryonic stem cells can be used to generate cells that secrete insulin in response to glucose, like the beta-cells in the pancreas.
"Development of a cell therapy for diabetes would be greatly aided by a renewable supply of human beta-cells," Dr. Emmanuel E. Baetge and colleagues, from Novocell Inc. in San Diego, comment in the research journal Nature Biotechnology.
In the study, the researchers show that pancreatic tissue, derived from human embryonic stems cells, can generate cells that are "morphologically and functionally similar" to beta-cells after being implanted into mice.
In addition, the team goes on to show that implantation of the stem cell-derived tissue stops glucose levels rising excessively in the animals.
These findings suggest that human embryonic stem cells could, in fact, represent a renewable supply of insulin-producing cells for treating diabetes, the researchers conclude.
SOURCE: Nature Biotechnology, online February 20, 2008.