Last week a team from the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Belgium reported their findings on a novel way of potentially curing diabetes that involves taking pancreatic cells and genetically modifying them as to coerce them into secreting insulin, thus countering the loss of insulin production typically seen in diabetics.
The method involves taking “pancreatic duct cells from dead donors”, which “don’t normally produce insulin”, but can “differentiate into specific cell types”. This feature has been harnessed by this team as to produce insulin by adding a “genetic switch” to change their behaviour. These cells were then implanted into diabetic mice, and were found to produce insulin.
However, this cure is still in early development, and we will have to see if these cells can be used in humans as well.
Source: New Scientist, edition no. 3042, ‘In Brief’ section- ‘Reboot insulin cells to treat diabetes’