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A step forward in stem cell research

Scientists claim they are a step closer to finding a cure for diabetes as they have converted stem cells from a human embryo into insulin-producing cells.

The study, published in Nature Biotechnology, said researchers converted the stem cells into immature 'beta' cells and injected them into mice. Within one to three months, the cells developed into fully functioning insulin-producing cells.

The transplanted cells regulated the blood glucose levels of mice whose own insulin-producing cells had been destroyed to mimic some forms of diabetes.

Another Step Forward


Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK says: “This research is based on a mouse model of diabetes which relies on chemicals to destroy the islet cells. This is very different to what happens in people with Type 1 diabetes, where the immune system mounts a complex attack against the beta cells. 

“The researchers have not produced fully functioning islet cells, just the insulin producing beta cells. We would certainly not wish to raise people's expectations that this research is a major leap forward in diabetes research, but it does provide another step forward in our knowledge.  “Although stem cell research is very much in its infancy, Diabetes UK believes it offers a real possibility of leading to a cure for diabetes.”



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