In DepthBiomedicine

Stem cell recipe offers diabetes hope

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Science  10 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6206, pp. 148
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6206.148

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Summary

Douglas Melton is as impatient as anyone for a cure for diabetes. His son developed the disease as an infant, and his daughter was diagnosed at age 14. For most of the past 2 decades, the developmental biologist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute has focused his research on finding a cure. This week, he and his colleagues report a potentially significant step toward that goal: a recipe that can turn human stem cells into functional pancreatic β cells—the cells that are destroyed by an autoimmune attack in type 1 diabetes patients such as Melton's son and daughter. The cells his group made respond to glucose by producing insulin, just as normal β cells do. And when implanted into mice with a form of diabetes, the cells can cure the disorder. The lab-generated cells should be a valuable tool for studying diabetes and, Melton hopes, could eventually be used to treat patients.