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Stem cell research news

23 August 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 272

Canadian scientists report that they have identified insulin-producing stem cells in the adult mouse pancreas, a finding they say offers hope for people with diabetes. Team leader Simon Smukler called the discovery 'very exciting', since scientists have been searching for pancreatic stem cells for some time. The researchers, based at the University of Toronto, published their findings in the journal Nature Biotechnology. Meanwhile, a group of US researchers has shown that embryo stem cells (ES cell) can repair damaged heart tissue in rats. The team, based at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Minnesota, published their results in the American Journal of Physiology.

People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin, or do not respond to the hormone's effects. Researchers are hoping to develop new treatments for this disorder by transplanting insulin-producing 'beta' cells into the pancreas. Earlier this year, US stem cell researcher Doug Melton cast doubt on the existence of pancreatic stem cells, but the Canadian study suggests otherwise.

The scientists now hope to continue their research, to show that the cells they isolated are true stem cells. Interestingly, the pancreas cells grew into both beta cells and nerve cells, a surprise finding given that these two cell types are thought to arise from separate cell-lines during development. 'The idea that a single cell within the pancreas could make both beta cells and neurons is intriguing', said Smukler.

The Mayo Clinic study showed that transplants of rat embryo stem cells can repair the damage caused by heart attack. After inducing heart attacks in rats, the researchers injected ES cells into the damaged areas. After three weeks, they found that the heart was working better in the treated animals, compared to rats that did not receive the ES cell therapy. The effect did not diminish over the 12 week follow-up period, and there was no evidence that the treatment caused any serious side effects. Team leader Andre Terzic said that 'based on our experimental findings, embryonic stem cells present an opportunity for reparative therapy with stable benefit in myocardial infarction [heart attack]'.

Embryonic stem cell therapy show benefits in rebuilding damaged heart |  18 August 2004
Embryo Stem Cells Repair Heart Muscle
ScienceDaily |  19 August 2004
Mouse pancreas may lead to diabetes treatment
The Globe and Mail |  23 August 2004
Pancreas stem cells for diabetes
BBC News Online |  23 August 2004
28 January 2008 - by Dr Karen Devine 
Researchers this week have reported that the much debated and 'elusive' insulin-producing stem cells really do exist in the pancreas. Despite scepticism over their actual existence, stem cells that can produce beta cells were found within the pancreas of adult mice during a study at the Diabetes...
9 July 2004 - by BioNews 
Stem cells boost the recovery of damaged hearts, German researchers have found. A report, published in the journal The Lancet, reveals that stem cells taken from the bone marrow increase the efficiency of hearts that have been damaged by heart attacks. The way in which this works still remains unclear...
10 May 2004 - by BioNews 
A new US study calls into question the existence of adult stem cells capable of transforming into insulin-producing pancreatic cells. Previous research in mice has suggested that such cells could be used to develop new treatments for diabetes. But the new study, carried out by scientists at Harvard University in...
29 April 2004 - by BioNews 
Patients with heart failure could one day be treated with injections of their own stem cells, according to new US trials that provide the 'first convincing evidence' that such an approach might work. Previous studies have produced conflicting results, and some researchers have questioned whether stem cell therapies for failing...
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