With human embryonic stem cells as a starting point, the scientists were for the first time able to produce, in the kind of massive quantities needed for cell transplantation and pharmaceutical purposes, human insulin-producing beta cells equivalent in most every way to normally functioning beta cells.
Elaine Fuchs, the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor at Rockefeller University, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator who is not involved in the work, hailed it as “one of the most important advances to date in the stem cell field, and I join the many people throughout the world in applauding my colleague for this remarkable achievement.
“For decades, researchers have tried to generate human pancreatic beta cells that could be cultured and passaged long-term under conditions where they produce insulin. Melton and his colleagues have now overcome this hurdle and opened the door for drug discovery and transplantation therapy in diabetes,” Fuchs said.
Giant leap against diabetes