Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers at Harvard University have discovered that insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas that are attacked in type 1 diabetes are replenished through duplication of existing cells rather than through differentiation of adult stem cells.
Although the experiments, which were done using mice, do not rule out the possibility that there are adult stem cells in the pancreas, the researchers say that they do suggest strongly that embryonic stem cells or mature beta cells may be the only way to generate beta cells for use in cell replacement therapies to treat diabetes.
The research team, which was led by HHMI investigator Douglas A. Melton at Harvard University, reported its findings in a research article published in the May 6, 2004, issue of the journal Nature. Meltons co-authors include Yuval Dor, Juliana Brown and Olga I. Martinez, all of Harvard.
Jim Keeley | HHMI
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