Soon, damaged pancreas' could heal themselves

Washington, Sept. 18 (ANI): Scientists have successfully grown stem cells, which have the ability to develop into two different types of cells that make up a healthy pancreas.

The research team led by Dr. Hans Clevers of the Hubrecht Institute, The Netherlands, have isolated and grown stem cells from the pancreases of mice using a 3-D culture system previously developed by the scientists.

The results could eventually lead to ways to repair damaged insulin-producing beta cells or pancreatic duct cells.

Cell signalling molecules known as Wnts and a protein called Lgr5 are essential to produce adult stem cells that can be coaxed to grow and divide rapidly.

Clevers said that they have found a way to activate the Wnt pathway to produce an unlimited expansion of pancreatic stem cells isolated from mice.

He said that by changing the growth conditions we can select two different fates for the stem cells and generate large numbers of either hormone-producing beta cells or pancreatic duct cells.

In the study, the pancreases of mice were altered in a way that makes duct cells proliferate and differentiate. Some cells in this new population were stem cells that were capable of self-renewal.

The scientists were able to culture these cells to give rise to large numbers of pancreatic cells or tiny clumps of tissue referred to as organoids.

The results have been published in The EMBO Journal. (ANI)

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