Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Turn Human Skin Cells Into Insulin-producing Cells

Date:
September 18, 2008
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have transformed cells from human skin into cells that produce insulin, the hormone used to treat diabetes. The breakthrough may one day lead to new treatments or even a cure for the millions of people affected by the disease, researchers say.

Researchers have transformed cells from human skin into cells that produce insulin, the hormone used to treat diabetes.
Credit: iStockphoto/Laurie Knight

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have transformed cells from human skin into cells that produce insulin, the hormone used to treat diabetes.

Related Articles


The breakthrough may one day lead to new treatments or even a cure for the millions of people affected by the disease, researchers say.

The approach involves reprogramming skin cells into pluripotent stem cells, or cells that can give rise to any other fetal or adult cell type, and then inducing them to differentiate, or transform, into cells that perform a particular function – in this case, secreting insulin.

Several recent studies have shown that cells can be returned to pluripotent state using "defined factors" (specific proteins that control which genes are active in a cell), a technique pioneered by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, a professor at Kyoto University in Japan.

However, the UNC study is the first to demonstrate that cells reprogrammed in this way can be coaxed to differentiate into insulin-secreting cells. Results of the study are published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

"Not only have we shown that we can reprogram skin cells, but we have also demonstrated that these reprogrammed cells can be differentiated into insulin-producing cells which hold great therapeutic potential for diabetes," said study lead author Yi Zhang, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UNC and member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Of course, there are many years of additional studies that are required first, but this study provides hope for a cure for all patients with diabetes," said John Buse, M.D., Ph.D., president of the American Diabetes Association and professor and chief of the endocrinology division in the UNC School of Medicine's department of medicine.

About 24 million Americans suffer from diabetes, a disease that occurs when the body is unable to produce or use insulin properly. Virtually all patients with type I diabetes, the more severe of the two types, must rely on daily injections of insulin to maintain their blood sugar levels.

Recent research exploring a possible long-term treatment – the transplantation of insulin-producing beta cells into patients – has yielded promising results. But this approach faces its own challenges, given the extreme shortage of matched organ donors and the need to suppress patients' immune systems.

The work by Zhang and other researchers could potentially address those problems, since insulin-producing cells could be made from diabetic patients' own reprogrammed cells.

Zhang is collaborating with Buse to obtain skin samples from diabetes patients. He said he hoped his current experiments will take this approach one step closer to a new treatment or even a cure for diabetes.

The research was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health. Study co-authors include postdoctoral fellows Keisuke Tateishi, M.D.; Jin He, Ph.D.; Olena Taranova, Ph.D.; Ana C. D'Alessio, Ph.D.; and graduate student Gaoyang Liang, all from the UNC School of Medicine's department of biochemistry and biophysics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Scientists Turn Human Skin Cells Into Insulin-producing Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080917175042.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2008, September 18). Scientists Turn Human Skin Cells Into Insulin-producing Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080917175042.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Scientists Turn Human Skin Cells Into Insulin-producing Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080917175042.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill Test Can Predict Chance Of Death Within A Decade

Treadmill Test Can Predict Chance Of Death Within A Decade

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed 58,000 heart stress tests to come up with a formula that predicts a person&apos;s chances of dying in the next decade. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) If a doctor advises you to remove gluten from your diet, you could get a tax deduction on the amount you spend on gluten-free foods. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis Try Swapping Success

GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis Try Swapping Success

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 2, 2015) GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis have completed a series of asset swaps worth more than $20 billion. As Grace Pascoe reports they say the deal will reshape both drugmakers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Can West Africa Rebuild After Ebola?

How Can West Africa Rebuild After Ebola?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 2, 2015) How best to rebuild the three West African countries struggling with Ebola will be discussed in Brussels this week. As Hayley Platt reports Sierra Leone has the toughest job ahead - its once thriving economy has been ravaged by the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins