Defining a Key Process in Beta Cell Formation

The process of converting the information carried in genes to direct the differentiation of specific cell types within the pancreas is complicated and not well understood. How this process works and how to control it, is critical to directing the fate of stem cells to generate insulin-producing beta cells. This result identified a pathway and factors responsible for promoting alpha and beta cell differentiation in the pancreas. These data defined a novel pathway that ensures precise control of endocrine cell differentiation. Such knowledge is essential to the ability to generate large quantities of beta cells from stem cell sources for use in future encapsulation products.

Ramifications for Individuals with T1D:

This study helps elucidate the mechanism of promoting beta cell formation during development, and may help improve the protocols for generating functional beta cells from human embryonic stem cells for use in encapsulation products that restore a person with T1D to insulin independence.

JDRF Involvement:

This study was funded in part by JDRF.

Investigators and Institutions:

This work was conducted by Dr. Eran Hornstein and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Reference:

Kredo-Russo S, Mandelbaum AD, Ness A, Alon I, Lennox KA, Behlke MA, Hornstein E. (2012) Pancreas-enriched miRNA refines endocrine cell differentiation. Development. 139(16):3021-31.