Insulin-producing cells derived from human stem cells restore blood sugar to normal levels when encased in a porous biomaterial and implanted in diabetic mice.

People with severe type 1 diabetes can sometimes be treated with a transplant of insulin-producing cells from cadavers, but the cell supply is limited. The recipient must also stay on drugs to stop the immune system attacking the cells. Instead, Daniel Anderson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and his colleagues derived insulin-producing β-cells from human embryonic stem cells and encapsulated them in a substance called TMTD alginate.

When implanted into diabetic mice, the coated cells were shielded from immune attack. The animals also maintained normal blood-sugar control until the implants were removed 174 days later.

Nature Med. (2016)