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[IP] Stem cells coaxed to produce insulin Advance may lead to new diabetes therapy, e
July 31 Israeli researchers said they have succeeded in coaxing human
embryonic stem cells into producing the hormone insulin in a key step toward
creating a revolutionary treatment for type 1 diabetes.
STEM CELLS primitive master cells that were derived from a human
embryo days after fertilization transformed with chemical prodding in a
petri dish into an abundant mass of cells possessing important qualities of
the cells of the pancreas that secrete insulin, the researchers said. Those
cells are called islet cells, or beta cells.
The findings represent a major stride toward using embryonic stem
cells to treat type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. The
appearance of the study in Tuesdays issue of the journal Diabetes,
published by the American Diabetes Association, comes as President Bush
considers whether to allow federal funding for research involving human
embryonic stem cells.
Embryonic stem cells, essentially the bodys early building blocks,
are known for their ability to transform into virtually every cell type.
Some scientists hope to harness this quality to treat type 1 diabetes by
transplanting these cells into the bodies of patients in order to create
healthy islet cells to secrete and regulate insulin.
The findings were a necessary prerequisite for therapeutic
strategies for type 1 diabetes using stem cells, the researchers wrote.
They came from the Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion, Israel
Institute of Technology and the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, and were led
by Suheir Assady.
Dr. Christopher Saudek, president of the American Diabetes
Association and a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in
Baltimore, called the findings exciting.
Up until this point, people have talked about the possibility that
human stem cells could be made to produce insulin. But here it is being
demonstrated, Saudek said.
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