Treating Diabetes in Mice with Engineered Human Pancreatic Cells

Treating Diabetes in Mice with Engineered Human Pancreatic Cells

Posted by Leanne Kodsman on

Scientists have developed a new laboratory technique that allows them to create engineered human pancreatic islets that are vascularized and secrete hormones like insulin. When transplanted into mice, these pancreatic islets develop a circulatory system and successfully treat sudden-onset type 1 diabetes.


Scientists have developed a new laboratory technique that allows them to create engineered human pancreatic islets that are vascularized and secrete hormones like insulin. When transplanted into mice, these pancreatic islets develop a circulatory system and successfully treat sudden-onset type 1 diabetes.

Researchers from Japan and the US have created a new method for creating tissue-engineered human pancreatic islets, according to a new study. Not only are they able to grow this tissue in a laboratory setting, but when transplanted into mice, these engineered pancreatic islets develop a mature vascular/circulatory system and are able to secrete insulin. This transplant proved to be a successful treatment for mice with type 1 diabetes, effectively controlling blood sugar levels.

Self-Condensation Cell Culture

The scientists used a new process for bioengineering, which they are calling "self-condensation cell culture." This, researchers hope, brings us a step closer to one day finding a way to grow human organ tissues using an individual's own cells.

To test their processing system, the researchers used a combination of cells. They started with donated human organ cells, mouse organ cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). They then added two forms of embryonic-stage progenitor cells, the purpose of which are to support the formation of the body and specific organs. In this case, the researchers used mesenchymal stem cells (MSNs) and human umbilical vascular endothelial cells (HUVECs).

Forming Pancreatic Islets

Together, the various biological "ingredients" condensed and formed pancreatic islets. When transplanted into humanized mouse models of type 1 diabetes, these islets appeared to resolve and control the disease.

It is already possible to transplant pancreatic islets into diabetic human patients for treatment, but until this point, the success rate has been relatively low because it has been difficult to develop pancreatic islets that have sufficient blood supply to nourish the transplanted tissue.

Functional, Effective Transplantation

Pancreatic islets engineered in this new way not only develop a mature vascular network after transplantation into animal models, but the transplanted tissue also functions effectively as part of the endocrine system. The transplanted tissue secretes hormones like insulin and stabilizes the animals' glycemic control. This marks the first time the team has been able to engineer tissue fragments from organ cells that are able to vascularize in the body.

This method is hoped to be a promising treatment for type 1 diabetes in humans, a disease that is currently seeing nearly 80k new diagnoses annually. There is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes, and the condition can be life-threatening. Finding a curative or permanent therapy would benefit millions of people worldwide.

Further Reading & References:

Tissue-engineered human pancreatic cells successfully treat diabetic mice. Science Daily. 08 May 2018.

Transplanted Human Islets Grow Blood Vessels and Secrete Insulin to Treat Diabetic Mice. GEN: Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. 08 May 2018.

Self-Condensation Culture Enables Vascularization of Tissue Fragments for Efficient Therapeutic Transplantation. Cell Reports. doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.03.123


Innovative Research was established in 1998 after the realization that dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials were hard to come by. Starting with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today, we manufacture and supply over 3,000 high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.

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    Innovative Research was established in 1998 after the realization that dependable, high-quality, and affordable research materials were hard to come by. Starting with core products like human plasma and serum, Innovative Research has grown to be a trusted supplier of all lab reagents, including human biologicals and ELISA kits. Today, we manufacture and supply thousands of high-quality human and animal biologicals including plasma, serum, tissues, and proteins.


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