The researchers from University of British Columbia, Canada, have found a new quicker way to develop insulin producing beta cells from stem cells. It took them about six weeks to produce beta cells in a dish instead of four months in previous methods. The study results were published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
According to the protocol, stem cells are converted into insulin-producing beta cells in a culture. However, although the cells from the culture produce insulin, they are still immature. The complete conversion is reached after the cells are transplanted into the host.
As the next step, the researchers plan to investigate how to prevent beta cells produced from stem cells from being rejected by the recepient’s body.
The new procedure makes a step closer towards effective treatment of type 1 diabetes that would not require daily insulin injections, which is currently the most common way of the therapy. It could prove more efficient compared to other experimental ways of treating diabetes, for example, transplantation of pancreatic islets from a healthy donor or implantation of artificial pancreatic device that is controlled and monitored by a cell phone.