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Major hurdle cleared to diabetes transplants
Date:6/13/2013

for a month or so, and when we finally gave it a try, we were amazed at the results: human beta cells in Dr. Stappenbeck's solution reproduced at a rate that was 20 times higher than beta cells in a solution that contained the sugar glucose."

The ability to produce large quantities of human beta cells in the laboratory gives the researchers hope that they could one day be transplanted into patients with type 1 diabetes.

The advantage of Stappenbeck's solution may be that it is designed to activate multiple growth signaling pathways in cells, according to the researchers. Earlier attempts to make beta cells proliferate focused on one or two growth pathways. The solution also activates genes that help prevent beta cells from dying.

Because pancreatic cancers are among the most deadly tumors, the scientists checked to make sure the proliferating beta cells weren't becoming more like cancer cells. They found that none of the factors known to contribute to pancreatic cancer were active in the laboratory-grown beta cells.

"This is an important concern to keep in mind if we are to expand human beta cells in culture with this medium and subsequently transplant them into patients," said Aly.

If the new availability of laboratory-grown beta cells makes it possible to treat patients with transplants from one donor instead of multiple donors, McDaniel noted, that might reduce the risk of immune system rejection of the transplants.

"Another benefit in using this novel growth medium to expand isolated human beta cells is that the cells remain healthier and have reduced levels of cell damage or death," Aly said. "That may also reduce the chances of immune system rejection."


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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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