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[IP] Diabetes transplants move closer
- To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:@mail4.mx.voyager.net;>
- Subject: [IP] Diabetes transplants move closer
- From: "jhughey" <email @ redacted>
- Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 07:45:10 -0500
- Reply-To: email @ redacted
Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
*Diabetes transplants move closer*
Some diabetics face daily injections
A new source of insulin-producing cells could improve the chances of an
operation which could cure diabetes in some patients.
People with type-1 diabetes have lost the ability to make the vital
hormone insulin because "beta cells" in the pancreas have been destroyed.
They rely on regular insulin injections to control their blood sugar
levels and keep them healthy.
They also have to avoid very sugary foods.
However, scientists now say that certain cells found in adult diabetics
can be transformed into fully-functioning beta cells.
This paves the way for a treatment which would replace the missing beta
cells and reduce or completely remove the need for extra insulin.
In addition, because the source of the cells is the patient, there would
be no danger of conventional immune system rejection.
A team from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute worked on cells called
nestin-positive islet derived progenitor cells (NIPs).
These are a type of "stem cell" - a master cell which has the ability to
develop into a multitude of different cell types.
We might be able to stimulate those cells to become truly functional
Joel Habener, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Scientists in many different research areas are working on ways of
stimulating stem cells to develop into everything from brain cells to
In this case, they found that NIPs could develop into beta cells when
mixed with a hormone found naturally in the human intestine.
The same hormone appears to make beta cells secrete insulin.
Since NIPs can be found in the pancreas of diabetics, potentially they
could be extracted, grown up into beta cells and then transplanted back.
Dr Joel Habener, who led the study, said: "If we can transplant beta
cells grown from a patient's own stem cells, the risk of rejection is gone.
"And now with the addition of this hormone, we might be able to
stimulate those cells to become truly functional."
A spokesman for Diabetes UK described the research as "potentially
Dr Moira Murphy, its director of research, said: "There is a clear aim
to find a way of generating adequate supplies of insulin producing cells.
"However this research is in its infancy and there is a lot of
developmental work to be done before this could be used in practice."
The majority of diabetes patients have the type-II version of the disease.
This involves a gradual deterioration of their body's ability to produce
insulin and control blood sugar, and can be treated with extra insulin
coupled with dietary restrictions.
The study was published in the journal Endocrinology.
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