“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.”
Aside: why not put a better amylin gene into the stem cells for good measure to reduce the incidence of pancreatic beta cell amyloidosis and possibly type II diabetes?