Stem cell researchers map insulin production pathways
Scientists from the Danish Stem Cell Center at the University of Copenhagen and Hagedorn Research Institute have gained new insight into the signaling paths that control the body's insulin production. This is an important step toward their final goal: the conversion of stem cells into insulin-producing beta cells that can be implanted into patients who need them. Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas. If these beta cells are defective, the body develops diabetes. Diabetic people, who cannot produce their own insulin in sufficient quantities or at all, receive carefully measured doses -- often via several daily injections. Scientists hope that, in the not-so-distant future, it will be possible to treat diabetes more effectively and prevent secondary problems such as cardiac disease, blindness, and nerve and kidney complications by offering diabetic patients implants of new, well-functioning, stem-cell-based beta cells.