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 One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

New design improves performance of flexible wearable electronics

23.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

Individualized fiber components for the world market

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>