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Insulin-producing mini stomachs could provide patient-specific diabetes treatment

by • February 21, 2016 • No Comments

Patients with Type 1 diabetes suffer of an absence of pancreatic cells called beta cells, which are responsible for making insulin. Researchers have been attempting to tackle the deficiency for decades, but now it appears which worthwhile progress may have been turn it intod – a team of scientists lead by researchers of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have discovered which it can be possible to engineer tissue of the lower stomach to address patients’ insulin needs.

For the new study, the researchers worked with laboratory mice genetically engineered to express three genes which can, under the right circumstances, turn other cell types into beta cells. The team carefully studied the mice, testing equite part of their anatomy for the many amenable cells for conversion. After much analysis, it was determined which cells of the pylorus region, which connects the stomach to the tiny intestine, were the most candidate.

The cells were discovered to be many responsive to high levels of glucose, normalizing the subject’s blood sugar by making insulin. Their effectiveness was tested when the researchers intentionally destroyed the creature’s pancreatic beta cells, effectively forcing the cells to respond if the subject was to survive.

The results of the test were quite positive, with the mice surviving for the entire length of the study – a few six months – with their reprogrammed pyloric cells making insulin to store blood sugar levels in check. By contrast, control animals without the reprogrammed tissue died within only eight weeks.

Aside of providing a potentially solid way for diabetics to turn it into insulin, pyloric stomach cells are in addition a excellent candidate, as they’re naturally renewed on a regular basis. That trait was tested for the reprogrammed cells, with the researchers destroying the population of cells in the mice, at which point the region’s stem cells did indeed replenish the insulin-making cells as hoped.

Looking towards converting their findings into a usable treatment, the researchers took a slightly various approach. As turning on the three genes responsible for the insulin production isn’t a excellent version for human trials, the team instead extracted stomach tissue of the mice and engineered it in a lab environment, expanding the cells into miniature stomachs capable of making insulin and replenishing themselves.

These mini-organs were tested in the laboratory mice, with the researchers implanting them in the membrane covering the within of the animals’ abdominal cavity. The team and so destroyed the mice’s competence to turn it into insulin, finding which the mini-organs compensated at the expected good results rate, with the glucose levels of five out of 22 test animals staying normal.

The team plans to go on its work, and hopes to turn it into the research into an effective clinical therapy which’s tailored to individual patients.

“What is potentially quite excellent of this approach is which one can biopsy of an individual man, grow the cells in vitro and reprogram them to beta cells, and and so transplant them to turn it into a patient-specific therapy,” said senior paper author Qiao Zhou. “That’s what we’re working on now. We’re quite excited.”

The research was published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Source: Harvard University


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