Stem cells may be useful for treating type 2 diabetes, according to a study in mice.
Insulin-producing cells derived from human embryonic stem cells reduce blood sugar levels in mice with type 1 diabetes, but it was unclear whether the approach would work for type 2 diabetes, which is much more common in humans. To model the disease, Timothy Kieffer of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and his colleagues fed mice a high-fat diet. After five days, the mice had high blood glucose levels, and by seven weeks they exhibited other symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Transplanting pancreatic cells grown from human embryonic stem cells into these mice increased their sensitivity to insulin. When combined with diabetes drugs, the transplants also reduced obesity and blood sugar levels.
Stem Cell Rep. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stemcr.2015.02.011 (2015)
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Stem cells tackle diabetes. Nature 519, 392 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/519392b