Lab-Grown Human Beta Cells Have Blocked Diabetes in Mice For Good
For the first time, researchers have converted induced pluripotent stem cells - cells capable of turning into any other type of cell - into fully functioning pancreatic beta cells, and when transplanted into diabetic mice, they blocked the disease altogether.
While the process has yet to be tested in humans, the results are exciting, because the hallmark of diabetes is a loss of functioning beta cells. If we can figure out how to transplant new, healthy beta cells into diabetes patients, we're looking at an actual cure, not just a treatment. "This discovery will enable us to produce potentially unlimited supplies of transplantable cells derived from a patient's own cells," lead researcher Ronald Evans told ABC News.
Diabetes, simply put, involves the loss of functioning beta cells in the pancreas: either these cells die (type I diabetes) or they don't do as they're told (type II diabetes), and in both cases, it leads to a lack of insulin to regulate the glucose levels in the blood. For a long time, scientists have been trying to replace these damaged or dead beta cells with healthy ones, and it finally looks as though they might have cracked it (in mice, at least).
When researchers at the Salk Institute in California transplanted these human beta cells into mice with type I diabetes, the diabetes symptoms disappeared. In this case, the scientists depressed the immune systems in the mice to prevent the human tissue from being rejected, but this would probably be unnecessary in human trials, if the beta cells could be developed from a patient's own stem cells.
The research bu Continue reading