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Diabetes Research Institute Invention Promotes Growth of Stem Cells into Insulin-Producing Cells
Date:9/5/2007

New "Oxygen Sandwich" Device is First to Mimic Natural Physical Environment

MIAMI, Sept. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the major challenges to islet cell transplantation as the treatment of choice for type 1 diabetes is the shortage of donor tissue supply. Patients often need a re-infusion of islet cells after the initial treatment, and this means another donor pancreas is needed to provide the fragile islet cells for transplant. New findings by researchers at the Diabetes Research Institute (http://www.diabetesresearch.org) at the University of Miami could represent a big step forward in possibly alleviating the problem.

Up until now investigators have had only moderate success in differentiating either adult stem cells or embryonic stem cells to become insulin-producing beta cells. A large part of the problem has been inducing the proper culture environment in the laboratory. Researchers know that islets require a high amount of oxygen for optimal health, so UM researchers created a new cell culture device called the "oxygen sandwich" to provide the cells with a more natural oxygen environment than those used in traditional culture methods.

"Using mouse pancreatic stem cells, we were able to show that delivering oxygen in a physiological way enhanced enormously their differentiation into beta cells, with insulin levels exceeding 30-fold those observed in control conditions," said Juan Dominguez-Bendala, Ph.D., research assistant professor of surgery, director of the Stem Cell Development and Translational Research Laboratory at the Diabetes Research Institute, and senior author of the study which was published online in Stem Cells Express.

"It is as though these stem cells were just waiting for us to provide them with the conditions they needed to mature. We believe this is a major step toward the efficient generation of beta cells for clinical transplantation."

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SOURCE Diabetes Research Institute Foundation
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