Towards Cell Therapy For Diabetes

As noted at Genetic Engineering News, Geron continues to show progress in the manipulation of embryonic stem cells (hESCs): "the paper describes studies showing how the researchers differentiated hESCs into cell clusters containing the main cellular components of the islets of Langerhans. The islets of Langerhans are structures in the pancreas that are responsible for regulating and producing insulin in response to changing glucose concentrations and are targets for autoimmune destruction or dysfunction in Type I Diabetes. ... These studies show that the islet-like clusters contain the major cellular components of islets and are sensitive to glucose, the key sugar to which they must respond to be therapeutically beneficial. Our major goal moving forward is to improve the purity, yield and maturational status of these cells ... The protocol to produce the ILCs drives hESCs through a series of cell culture steps that mimic the progressive differentiation stages during development of the pancreas in humans. Other pancreatic cell types resembling those of the exocrine pancreas were also observed during the differentiation process."



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