Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Adult Stem Cells Provide Hope for Diabetes Sufferers

Adult, not fetal, stem cells seem to hold the greatest promise for curing diabetes.

Researchers said this week that adult stem cells in the pancreas can be transformed into insulin-producing cells.

This newfound ability of endocrine progenitor stem cells in the adult human pancreas provides a major key to developing new treatments for diabetes, said researchers at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research and the Rebecca and John Moores Cancer Center at the University of California at San Diego.

The findings will be published in the March 1 edition of Nature Medicine.

"We hypothesized that the inductive factors in developing pancreatic cells might work on cells in the adult pancreas and that turned out to be true," said Fred Levine, adjunct professor at the Burnham.

"We have shown, in as rigorous a manner as possible, proof-of-concept for the existence of progenitor stem insulin-producing cells within the adult human pancreas. Our proven ability to transform these progenitor stem cells into insulin-producing cells greatly expands the possibility that beta cell regeneration therapies can be developed for the treatment of diabetes," he said.

"Prior to our study, it was thought that replication of beta cells arising from injury to the pancreas was the only regenerative source of beta cells in the adult pancreas. We now know that we have another, potentially more abundant, reservoir," Levine said.

Not only do adult stem cells do what we only wish fetal stem cells would do, but using one's own stem cells avoids all those immuity issues.


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