Diabetes Forecast

Scientists Create Insulin-Producing Cells

By Miriam E. Tucker , ,
colored slide showing human beta cells

Doug Melton/Harvard University

In research studies, scientists have found a way to turn human stem cells into insulin-producing cells in virtually unlimited quantities. Previously, only small amounts of these cells could be taken from the pancreases of deceased individuals. The newly reengineered cells lowered blood glucose levels when transplanted into diabetic mice. The ultimate goal: to find a way to transplant the cells into humans and protect them from being attacked by the body’s immune system, the process that causes type 1 diabetes in the first place. Researchers are working on special casings for the new beta cells that would keep the body from rejecting them yet allow the insulin to enter the bloodstream. 
Source: Cell, published online Oct. 9, 2014



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