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Health Agencies Update
January 26, 2005

Islet Precursor Cells

JAMA. 2005;293(4):415. doi:10.1001/jama.293.4.415-c

Scientists at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, in Bethesda, Md, have induced human insulin-producing cells of the pancreas to revert to islet precursor cells. The study was published in the November 25 online issue of Science (

The investigators demonstrated that insulin-producing beta cells from adult islets donated postmortem could be induced to differentiate into hormone-expressing isletlike cell aggregates, which are capable of multiplying in culture. As diabetes can result when individuals cannot produce or replace beta cells, the study’s findings could have implications for islet transplantation, an experimental treatment for type 1 diabetes. Islet transplantation is limited due to the small number of donor pancreata that become available for use each year.

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