With careful coaxing, stem cells from the brain can form insulin-producing cells that mimic those missing in people with diabetes, according to a paper published in the April 26 issue of PLoS Medicine.
Although the work is not yet ready for human patients, Seung Kim, MD, PhD, the lead author and assistant professor of developmental biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said it could lead to new ways of transplanting insulin-producing cells into people with diabetes, eventually providing a cure for the disease.
In past work, Kim and members of his lab enticed mouse embryonic stem cells to transform into insulin-producing cells. When transplanted into diabetic mice, these cells effectively made up for the lost insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called islet cells, and treated the diabetes. However, embryonic stem cells are difficult to work with in the lab and most existing human embryonic stem cell lines are contaminated and cant be transplanted into humans.
Amy Adams | EurekAlert!
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