Novocell scientists create insulin-producing cells

Novocell has managed to turn embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing pancreatic cells, a major step in a long journey toward curing patients with Type 1 diabetes. Vanderbilt's Dr. Mark A. Magnuson told The New York Times that Novocell's scientists had reached an efficiency of cell conversion that was in "orders of magnitude higher than anything previously accomplished." But he noted that significantly more work needs to be done. Novocell's scientists took embryonic stem cells and tweaked them with growth factors, mimicking the process in the creation of pancreatic cells. Novocell still has a considerable amount of testing to do. Animal studies are planned in '08, with human trials scheduled to get underway in '09. And that's the best-case scenario.

"The efficient, reproducible production of human embryonic stem cell-derived, insulin-producing endocrine cells through a process that mirrors the development of human pancreatic cells represents a critical step toward providing a renewable source of cells for diabetes therapy," said Emmanuel Baetge, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Novocell and senior author of the publication. "This provides a foundation upon which we can build a standardized process for generating functional insulin-producing cells for the treatment of diabetic patients."

- read the report on the research from The New York Times