Cell therapy possibility for treating diabetes producing pancreatic beta cells that can be transferred to patients and thus generate the much needed insulin in them. Up to now, there was a major difficulty in order for this to be useful in clinical practice, which was the low numbers of cells produced. An article has now been published in Cell (159; 428-439, 2014), in which Douglas Melton’s team, who have extensive experience in the treatment of diabetes, developed a method that enabled hundreds of millions of beta cells to be obtained from human pluripotent stem cells. The cells produced expressed markers typical of beta cells. When these cells were transplanted in mice, they were shown to secrete insulin after transplantation in a glucose-regulated manner, and also to improve hyperglycaemia in diabetic mice. This could unquestionably be one step further for the treatment of this widespread disease, with more than 400,000 type 1 diabetics in England alone.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.