Pancreatic stem cells isolated from mice

September 17, 2013

Scientists have succeeded in growing stem cells that have the ability to develop into two different types of cells that make up a healthy pancreas. The research team led by Dr. Hans Clevers of the Hubrecht Institute, The Netherlands, have isolated and grown stem cells from the pancreases of mice using a 3-D culture system previously developed by the scientists. The results, which are reported in The EMBO Journal, could eventually lead to ways to repair damaged insulin-producing beta cells or pancreatic duct cells.

Cell signalling molecules known as Wnts and a protein called Lgr5 are essential to produce that can be coaxed to grow and divide rapidly. However, these signaling pathways and molecules are inactive in the adult pancreas. "We have found a way to activate the Wnt pathway to produce an unlimited expansion of pancreatic stem cells isolated from mice," Clevers said. "By changing the growth conditions we can select two different fates for the stem cells and generate large numbers of either hormone-producing or pancreatic duct cells." He added: "This work is still at a very early stage and further experiments are needed before we can use such an approach for the culture of human cells but the results are a promising proof-of-concept."

In the study, the pancreases of mice were altered in a way that makes duct cells proliferate and differentiate. Some cells in this new population were stem cells that were capable of self-renewal. The scientists were able to culture these cells to give rise to large numbers of or tiny clumps of tissue referred to as organoids.

Therapeutic strategies for pancreatic disease have been hampered by a lack of cell culture systems that allow scientists to grow replacement tissue in a test tube or on a dish. Alternative approaches such as tissue transplantation are limited by the scarcity of donors and the possibility of . The new work offers access to an unlimited supply of pancreatic stem cells that would be beneficial for the development of new therapeutic interventions for pancreatic diseases like diabetes.

The next steps for the scientists will include further refinement of the cell culture methods developed in this study and investigation of ways to extend the approach to human pancreatic cells.

Explore further: Neural stem cell transplant may tackle diabetes

More information: Unlimited in vitro expansion of adult bi-potent pancreas progenitors through the Lgr5/Rspondin axis, DOI: 10.1038/emboj.2013.204

Related Stories

Neural stem cell transplant may tackle diabetes

October 7, 2011

Researchers in Japan have discovered how a patient's neural stem cells could be used as an alternative source of the beta cells needed for a regenerative treatment for diabetes. The research, published in EMBO Molecular Medicine ...

No rebirth for insulin secreting pancreatic beta cells

April 24, 2013

Pancreatic beta cells store and release insulin, the hormone responsible for stimulating cells to convert glucose to energy. The number of beta cells in the pancreas increases in response to greater demand for insulin or ...

Tracking nanodiamond-tagged stem cells

August 5, 2013

A method that is used to track the fate of a single stem cell within mouse lung tissue is reported in a study published online this week in Nature Nanotechnology. The method may offer insights into the factors that determine ...

Recommended for you

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

August 26, 2015

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That's the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine's discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, ...

Research identifies protein that regulates body clock

August 26, 2015

New research into circadian rhythms by researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that the GRK2 protein plays a major role in regulating the body's internal clock and points the way to remedies for jet lag ...

Anti-aging tricks from dietary supplement seen in mice

August 21, 2015

In human cells, shortened telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, are both a sign of aging and contribute to it. Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have found that the dietary supplement ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.