A JDRF-funded research project has turned human pancreatic ductal cells into insulin-producing cells, offering promise for restoring the ability to make insulin in people living with Type 1 diabetes.
The researchers stimulated ductal cells (which line the tubes running through the pancreas) taken from a human pancreas with small molecule inhibitors to influence the cells to sense glucose and release insulin.
While our bodies are still developing, ductal cells can turn into hormone-producing cells. Unfortunately, this function is lost by adulthood, so people living with Type 1 diabetes can’t grow new beta cells to replace those destroyed by the immune attack.
However, this JDRF-funded research study showed that, by changing their genes, ductal cells can be influenced to produce insulin and effectively replacing the lost beta cell function. The experiment was done on human cells in a dish, so researchers are hopeful that it could be the start of a treatment to regenerate beta-like cells in people living with Type 1 diabetes.
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