Endocrinology Research - latest
Researchers led by Martin Fussenegger, Professor of Biotechnology and Bioengineering at ETH Zurich's Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering in Basel have recently used liposuction to remove the excess fat from a 50 year old man.
They then harvested the stem cells within that fat and "coaxed" them to turn into insulin-making beta cells (like those naturally found in the pancreas).
They did this by adding a synthetic gene network to re-programme the cells to manufacture the three growth proteins which are needed to form mature insulin-producing cells.
The next step will be to transplant the beta cells back into a diabetic patient where it is hoped they will maintain blood glucose levels as normal.
Lab grown beta cells have already been used in this way but require the additional use of immunosuppressant drugs to stop the patient's body rejecting them.
"With our beta cells" says Professsor Fussenegger "there would be no need for this action, since we can make them using endogenous cell material taken from the patient's own body. This is why our work is of such interest in the treatment of diabetes"
For a more detailed account of this research please click here
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