A breakthrough in stem cell research could lead to a cure for diabetes
Douglas Melton,a developmental biologist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute,and colleagues report in the journal Cell that a new technique can successfully transform human embryonic stem cells(ESCs)or induced pluripotent stem cells(IPscs)into functional pancreatic beta cells.These beta cells secrete insulin to regulate glucose levels,just like normal beta cells.And experiments in mice have shown that these cells can cure type 1 diabetes.
The technology process is complex,human embryonic stem cell lines or induced pluripotent stem cell lines after inoculation into the culture bottle,need to replace five different media containing 11 cytokines culture for 35 days,in order to transform into beta cells.But the good news is that a 500ml culture bottle can produce 200 million beta cells,which is theoretically enough for a transplant treatment for a patient with type 1 diabetes.
The limited number of donor islets and the difficulty in replicating beta cells in vitro greatly highlight the application of human beta cells in the treatment of diabetes through pancreatic transplantation.This unlimited supply of stem cell-derived beta cells provides a new option for diabetes cell therapy and helps to promote the translational application of stem cell biology to the clinic.
Before clinical use,the researchers also need to solve the problem of immune rejection of these cells in patients.The problem is further complicated by the fact that people with diabetes have a basis for attacking their own beta cells.Dr.Melton and others are now exploring ways to coax beta cells to avoid being attacked by the immune system.
This new technology and derived beta cells have broad application prospects,such as as a tool for the study of the genetic basis of autoimmune diseases and diabetes,and can also become a means of diabetes treatment research to protect patients with residual beta cells.
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