Fully functional pancreatic cells have been cultured by scientists from human skin cells, potentially meaning the end of daily insulin injections for sufferers of the disease.
The lab-made cells were tested in mice and they successfully prevented the mice from developing diabetes.
The new study also presents significant advancements in cellular reprogramming technology, which will allow scientists to efficiently scale up pancreatic cell production and manufacture trillions of the target cells in a step-wise, controlled manner.
This accomplishment opens the door for disease modeling and drug screening and brings personalized cell therapy a step closer for patients with diabetes.
In the study, the scientists first used pharmaceutical and genetic molecules to reprogram skin cells into endoderm progenitor cells–early developmental cells that have already been designated to mature into one of a number of different types of organs.
The study has been published in Nature Communication.