Pondering Pancreas Cell Regeneration

From EurekAlert!, a good example of challenge, learning and progress in the field of regenerative medicine: "Replacing faulty or missing cells with new insulin-making cells has been the object of diabetes research for the last decade. Past studies in tissue culture have suggested that one type of pancreas cell could be coaxed to transform into insulin-producing islet cells. Now, [researchers] have demonstrated that these pancreatic acinar cells do not become insulin-producing cells in an animal model. However, they did show that injured pancreatic cells readily regenerate back into healthy acinar cells, which has implications for treating cancer and inflammation of the pancreas. ... Under certain conditions in tissue culture, acinar cells can synthesize insulin as well as amylase, a digestion enzyme. ... It is very clear that the acinar and islet compartments remain separate during regeneration in a live animal ... Although our work shows that acinar cells do not contribute to the insulin-producing compartment of the pancreas in an animal model, it is possible that other strategies might be successful in generating the islet cells. The hope is that these acinar cells would continue to make insulin after being transplanted back into the mouse."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-04/uops-psp040307.php

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