mice with type 1 diabetes showed that these lab-made cells could treat the disease
for several months as they produced insulin and subsequently controlled blood
scalable technology is proven to work in both the clinic and in the
manufacturing facility, the impact on the treatment of diabetes will be a medical
game-changer on a par with antibiotics and bacterial infections,' commented Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London,
who was not involved in the study.
researchers screened about 150 different combinations of chemical growth
factors, which had been previously described in playing a role in pancreatic
biology. They found that combining 11 of these chemicals could transform
embryonic stem cells into functioning beta cells — cells which make the insulin
hormone within the pancreas.
type 1 diabetes, which affects about 400,000 people in Britain, lack beta cells
because their own immune system destroys them.
been previous reports of other labs deriving beta cell types from stem cells,
[but] no other group has produced mature beta cells as suitable for use in
patients,' said lead author of the study Professor Doug Melton.
He added: 'The
biggest hurdle has been to get to glucose-sensing, insulin-secreting beta
cells, and that's what our group has done.'
Melton started the research 23 years ago after his son Sam was diagnosed with
type 1 diabetes. 'He hopes to have human transplantation trials using the cells
under way within a few years,' reports the University of Harvard press
for diabetes using beta cell transplantation remains in the experimental stages. It uses cells from cadavers that are in limited supply, it
requires the use of powerful immunosuppressive drugs, and is available to only
a very small number of patients.
Morrison at the University of Edinburgh told the BBC that this 'represents a
real advance in the field'. She added: 'The next important challenge will be to
find ways to maintain these cells inside the body so they are protected from
the immune response and have long-term function.'
offering a new form of treatment for type 1 diabetes, the scientists believe it
could also offer hope for the people with type 2 diabetes who have to rely on
regular insulin injections.
was published in the journal Cell.