By taking adult stem cells from patients with Type 1 diabetes and reprogramming them into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, scientists have been able to watch as the disease develops. That front row seat offers a unique perspective that should help researchers advance a cure for the disease.
"What you get is the ability to watch, for the first time, Type 1 diabetes develop," says senior author Douglas Melton, the co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. "Until you watch a disease develop, you will not understand the mechanism, and you therefore cannot devise any kind of sensible treatment or cure."
The reprogrammed cells can be transformed into insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, which are destroyed by the disease. "It's completely mind boggling that you can actually study human disease in a dish," Jeanne Loring, a Scripps researcher, tells Technology Review.
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