Researchers have created insulin-producing cells in a petri dish for the first time, moving closer to finding a potential cure for diabetes. The researchers discovered a switch that makes it “possible to produce a functional human beta cell that’s responding almost as well as the natural thing,” according to Ronald Evans, senior author and a molecular biologist at the Salk Institute.
The team discovered that a when a particular protein was provided to the cells, they were able to mature and produce insulin.
Beta cells are found in the pancreas, and are responsible for producing and storing insulin. Diabetes occurs when these cells don’t function properly. Scientists have worked to create new beta cells from stem cells, but this has proved difficult, as the juvenile beta cells would not mature. The team discovered that a when a particular protein was provided to the cells, they were able to mature and produce insulin.
Original research paper published in Cell Metabolism on April 12, 2015.
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