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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Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.
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Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.
This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.
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