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 Experiments in mice and human cells shed light on best way to deliver nanoparticle therapy for cancer
26.03.2020 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

nachricht Too much salt weakens the immune system
26.03.2020 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

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: Junior scientists at the University of Rostock invent a funnel for light

Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.

The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.

Im Focus: Stem Cells and Nerves Interact in Tissue Regeneration and Cancer Progression

Researchers at the University of Zurich show that different stem cell populations are innervated in distinct ways. Innervation may therefore be crucial for proper tissue regeneration. They also demonstrate that cancer stem cells likewise establish contacts with nerves. Targeting tumour innervation could thus lead to new cancer therapies.

Stem cells can generate a variety of specific tissues and are increasingly used for clinical applications such as the replacement of bone or cartilage....

Im Focus: Artificial solid fog material creates pleasant laser light

An international research team led by Kiel University develops an extremely porous material made of "white graphene" for new laser light applications

With a porosity of 99.99 %, it consists practically only of air, making it one of the lightest materials in the world: Aerobornitride is the name of the...

Im Focus: Cross-technology communication in the Internet of Things significantly simplified

Researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a framework by which wireless devices with different radio technologies will be able to communicate directly with each other.

Whether networked vehicles that warn of traffic jams in real time, household appliances that can be operated remotely, "wearables" that monitor physical...

Im Focus: Peppered with gold

Research team presents novel transmitter for terahertz waves

Terahertz waves are becoming ever more important in science and technology. They enable us to unravel the properties of future materials, test the quality of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020” takes place over the internet

26.03.2020 | Event News

Most significant international Learning Analytics conference will take place – fully online

23.03.2020 | Event News

MOC2020: Fraunhofer IOF organises international micro-optics conference in Jena

03.03.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

3D printer sensors could make breath tests for diabetes possible

27.03.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

TU Bergakademie Freiberg researches virus inhibitors from the sea

27.03.2020 | Life Sciences

The Venus flytrap effect: new study shows progress in immune proteins research

27.03.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>