Scientists develop insulin-producing cells

Oct 20, 2006

Scientists at a California biotechnology company said they have developed a way to turn embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing pancreatic cells.

Scientists at Novocell in San Diego said years of research remain before a therapy can be developed from their study of using embryonic stem cells to replace cells destroyed by the body's immune system because of juvenile, or type 1, diabetes, the New York Times said Friday.

Embryonic stem cells have the potential of being turned into any type of tissue in the body and in current research scientists are experimenting with using them to form various types of tissues, the Times said.

Although scientists see the study as an advance over previous studies of turning stem cells into insulin-producing cells, the Times said, they note the cells in those lab experiments did not increase or decrease their insulin supply in response to changing blood sugar levels.

Emmanuel Baetge, Novocell chief scientific officer, said that is because the cells weren't mature but resembled insulin-producing cells in a human fetus, the Times said. He said it is after a baby is born that cells respond to glucose levels.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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