Scientists from The Danish Stem Cell Center (DanStem) 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 important knowledge with respect to 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. Scientists hope that in the not-so-distant future it will be possible to treat diabetes more effectively and prevent secondary diseases such as cardiac disease, blindness and nerve and kidney complications by offering diabetes patients implants of new, well-functioning, stem-cell-based beta cells.
“In order to get stem cells to develop into insulin-producing beta cells, it is necessary to know what signalling mechanisms normally control the creation of beta cells during foetal development. This is what our new research results can contribute,” says Professor Palle Serup from Danstem.
The new research results were obtained in a cooperative effort between Danstem, the Danish Hagedorn Research Institute and international partners in Japan, Germany, Korea and the USA.