Type 1 diabetes: Reprogramming liver cells may lead to new treatments

Reprogramming mouse liver cells into precursor pancreatic cells may offer a way forward for the treatment of type 1 diabetes in humans.


A study from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany shows how just by changing the expression of a single gene, researchers were able to coax mouse liver cells to develop into cells with pancreatic features.


Researchers reprogrammed one type of cell into another type of cell by tweaking genes on immature liver and pancreas cells isolated from mouse embryos.


The researchers identified the single gene as TGIF2.


When modified cells were transplanted into diabetic mice, the animals' blood glucose levels improved, suggesting the cells were behaving like pancreatic beta cells.


The advantages of using liver cells

Other researchers in regenerative medicine are exploring ways to generate new populations of pancreatic beta cells.


In their study paper, researchers at the same Berlin facility reveal research that shows pancreatic cells display a high degree of "cellular plasticity."


But they chose instead to focus on liver cells that are more accessible and abundant.


Access the full study paper 

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