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Diabetes Research Made Significant Strides in Past Year
Date:11/13/2010

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Even as the threat of diabetes continues to grow, scientists have made significant discoveries in the past year that might one day lead to ways to stop the blood sugar disease in its tracks.

That's some good news as World Diabetes Day is observed this Sunday. Created in 1991 as a joint project between the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization to bring more attention to the public health threat of diabetes, World Diabetes Day was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2007.

One of the more exciting findings in type 1 diabetes research this year came from the lab of Dr. Pere Santamaria at University of Calgary, where researchers developed a vaccine that successfully reversed diabetes in mice. What's more, the vaccine was able to target only those immune cells that were responsible for destroying the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

"The hope is that this work will translate to humans," said Dr. Richard Insel, chief scientific officer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. "And what's exciting is that they've opened up some pathways we didn't even know were there."

The other avenue of type 1 research that Insel said has progressed significantly this year is in beta cell function.

Pedro Herrera, at the University of Geneva Medical School, and his team found that the adult pancreas can actually regenerate alpha cells into functioning beta cells. Other researchers, according to Insel, have been able to reprogram other cells in the body into beta cells, such as the acinar cells in the pancreas and cells in the liver. This type of cell manipulation is called reprogramming, a different and less complex process than creating induced pluripotent stem cells, so there are fewer potential problems with the process, he said.

Another exciting development that came to fruition t
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