Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stem cell breakthrough offers diabetes hope

07.04.2008
Scientists have discovered a new technique for turning embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing pancreatic tissue in what could prove a significant breakthrough in the quest to find new treatments for diabetes.

The University of Manchester team, working with colleagues at the University of Sheffield, were able to genetically manipulate the stem cells so that they produced an important protein known as a ‘transcription factor’.

Stem cells have the ability to become any type of cell, so scientists believe they may hold the key to treating a number of diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes.

However, a major stumbling block to developing new treatments has been the difficulty scientists have faced ensuring the stem cells turn into the type of cell required for any particular condition – in the case of diabetes, pancreatic cells.

“Unprompted, the majority of stem cells turn into simple nerve cells called neurons,” explained Dr Karen Cosgrove, who led the team in Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences.

“Less than one per cent of embryonic stem cells would normally become insulin-producing pancreatic cells, so the challenge has been to find a way of producing much greater quantities of these cells.”

The pancreas contains different types of specialised cells – exocrine cells, which produce enzymes to aid digestion, and endocrine cells, including beta cells, which produce the hormone insulin to regulate the blood glucose levels. Diabetes results when there is not enough insulin to meet the body’s demands.

There are two forms of the disease: type-1 diabetes is due to not enough insulin being produced by the pancreas, while type-2 or adult-onset diabetes occurs when the body fails to respond properly to the insulin that is produced.

The team found that the transcription factor PAX4 encouraged high numbers of embryonic stem cells – about 20% – to become pancreatic beta cells with the potential to produce insulin when transplanted into the body.

Furthermore, the scientists for the first time were able to separate the new beta cells from other types of cell produced using a technique called ‘fluorescent-activated cell sorting’ which uses a special dye to colour the pancreatic cells green.

“Research in the United States has shown that transplanting a mixture of differentiated cells and stem cells can cause cancer, so the ability to isolate the pancreatic cells in the lab is a major boost in our bid to develop a successful therapy,” said Dr Cosgrove.

“Scientists have had some success increasing the number of pancreatic cells produced by altering the environment in which the stem cells develop, so the next stage of our research will be to combine both methods to see what proportions we can achieve.”

Scientists believe that transplanting functional beta cells into patients, most likely into their liver where there is a strong blood supply, offers the best hope for finding a cure for type-1 diabetes. It could also offer hope to those with type-2 diabetes whose condition requires insulin injections.

But the more immediate benefit of the team’s research is likely to be in providing researchers with a ready-made supply of human pancreatic cells on which to study the disease process of diabetes and test new drugs.

Aeron Haworth | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>