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article imageOp-Ed: Do stem cells offer diabetes cure potential?

By Tim Sandle     Oct 18, 2014 in Science
Scientists have developed hormone-producing pancreas cells from human embryonic stem cells. This could pave the way for a cell therapy to treat diabetes.
If the scientific report is correct, researchers have successfully grown insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells from human embryonic stem cells. The research was led by Douglas Melton, a Harvard University stem cell scientist. The findings have been reported to the journal Cell. The study is titled "Generation of Functional Human Pancreatic β Cells In Vitro."
According to The Washington Post, the new procedure requires six steps, involving chemicals and growth factors, and takes 40 days to go from either embryonic or adult stem cells to mature pancreatic beta cells. The process yielded billions of the insulin-secreting cells.
Discussing the reason for using stem cells, Douglas Melton told The Boston Globe: “We’re tired of curing mice. Most patients are sick of hearing that something’s just around the corner; I’m sick of thinking things are just around the corner. But I do believe in the big picture.”
At this stage, the work is not of clinical relevance. Nonetheless, it presents the possibility that one day cell therapy that could treat diabetes. Dieter Egli, assistant professor in the pediatrics department at Columbia University Medical Center aims to try and repeat the results in a separate laboratory. If the work can be verified, then the potential for a future therapy will be advanced.
It should be noted, however, that some scientists are skeptical about the use of stem cells in this context. This is because diabetes can mask variety of other disorders, and its precise causes remains unknown. Furthermore, studies in test tubes do not necessarily translate into the same responses in a mammalian body.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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