The study is published in the March 14 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The researchers caution that the findings cannot be applied to treating diabetics now, but may one day provide a means to produce unlimited quantities of functional insulin-producing cells culled from the bone marrow of diabetes patients. Since patients would produce their own cells for transplantation, it is possible that the cells would not be rejected by their immune system.
"Clearly much work remains to be done," says Mehboob A. Hussain, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, who led the study. "But I am absolutely excited by the potential applications of our findings," he says. "In our body, there is an additional, easily accessible source of cells that are capable of becoming insulin-producing pancreatic endocrine cells. Transplantation of bone marrow stem cells already is a routine procedure for treating cancer and other diseases, and we could build on that experience."
Dr. Hussain's study is described as "elegant" in an accompanying editorial by Drs. Vivian Lee and Markus Stoffel, two diabetes researchers from The Rockefeller University, published in the same issue of the journal. Dr. Hussain used a molecular biology technique called "CRE-loxP" that allowed him to identify and isolate bone marrow derived cells and to study them more closely than had previously been possible.
One of the longstanding goals of diabetes research is to find a way to replace the insulin-producing cells in the pa
Contact: Pamela McDonnell
New York University Medical Center and School of Medicine