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New Approach May Keep Diabetes Patients Off Insulin Shots

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2005

UM Researchers Work To Make Supply of Insulin-Producing Cells, converting stem cells into insulin-producing cells.

Researchers in Florida think they've taken a major step in the fight against juvenile diabetes. The discovery could pave the way for new treatments to help patients. scientists know they can successfully treat diabetes by transplanting cells from cadavers. However, islet cells are in short supply because they must be harvested from donor organs.

Researchers at the University of Miami said they are working on a way to create an abundant supply of these insulin-producing cells using embryonic stem cells.

"The approach that we are presenting today is a way to make a shortcut to provide the key proteins that make stem cells become insulin-producing cells," said Dr. Juan Dominguez Bendala of the University of Miami.

Getting that key protein quickly and directly into stem cells from mice has been accomplished by a team of scientists at the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami. Bendala called the technology that accelerates the conversion process from stem cells to islet cells promising.

But the problem is the cadaver cells are in short supply. That's why the focus is on stem cells. The team, led by Dr. Juan Dominguez-Bendala, has learned that with a specific protein, they can make stem cells take one of several steps necessary to become insulin producing cells. "They may be theoretically an unlimited supply of this type of cells for transplantation," Dr. Bendala siad.

Many researchers believe that if stem cells can cure any disease, it will be diabetes. This latest research makes that goal even more likely.

Researchers said the next step is trying this new approach on human cells. That work is under way at the Diabetes Research Institute.


Source: Diabetes In

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