Researchers at Cedars-Sinai's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute have found that a blood vessel-building gene boosts the ability of human bone marrow stem cells to sustain pancreatic recovery in a laboratory mouse model of insulin-dependent diabetes.
The findings, published in a PLOS ONE article of the Public Library of Science, offer new insights on mechanisms involved in regeneration of insulin-producing cells and provide new evidence that a diabetic's own bone marrow one day may be a source of treatment.
Scientists began studying bone marrow-derived stem cells for pancreatic regeneration a decade ago. Recent studies involving several pancreas-related genes and delivery methods – transplantation into the organ or injection into the blood – have shown that bone marrow stem cell therapy could reverse or improve diabetes in some laboratory mice. But little has been known about how stem cells affect beta cells – pancreas cells that produce insulin – or how scientists could promote sustained beta cell renewal and insulin production.
When the Cedars-Sinai researchers modified bone marrow stem cells to express a certain gene (vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF), pancreatic recovery was sustained as mouse pancreases were able to generate new beta cells. The VEGF-modified stem cells promoted growth of needed blood vessels and supported activation of genes involved in insulin production. Bone marrow stem cells modified with a different gene, PDX1, which is important in the development and maintenance of beta cells, resulted in temporary but not sustained beta cell recovery.
"Our study is the first to show that VEGF contributes to revascularization and recovery after pancreatic injury. It demonstrates the possible clinical benefits of using bone marrow-derived stem cells, modified to express that gene, for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes," said John S. Yu, MD, professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai, senior author of the journal article.
Diabetes was reversed in five of nine mice treated with the injection of VEGF-modified cells, and near-normal blood sugar levels were maintained through the remainder of the six-week study period. The other four mice survived and gained weight, suggesting treatment was beneficial even when it did not prompt complete reversal. Lab studies later confirmed that genetically-modified cells survived and grew in the pancreas and supported the repopulation of blood vessels and beta cells.
Anna Milanesi, MD, PhD, working in Yu's lab as an endocrinology fellow, is the article's first author. The researchers cautioned that although this and other related studies help scientists gain a better understanding of the processes and pathways involved in pancreatic regeneration, more research is needed before human clinical trials can begin.
Insulin-dependent diabetes occurs when beta cells of the pancreas fail to produce insulin, a hormone that regulates sugar in the blood. Patients must take insulin injections or consider transplantation of a whole pancreas or parts of the pancreas that make insulin, but transplantation carries the risk of cell rejection.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: http://www.csmc.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Fans of "Flappy Bird" may find its successor even more frustrating, but just as addictive
Even just the word Ebola is kind of terrifying. Why? Hollywood has a lot to do with it. But Ebola outbreaks also have all the ingredients for what one psychologist calls the "dread factor."
If we want to understand whats happening in the brain when people hear voices, we first need to understand what happens during ordinary inner speechHearing voices: whats your experience when reading?
Seals and sea lions may have brought a form of tuberculosis to the Americas, centuries before the Spanish did so
More people with non-fatal conditions are travelling to assisted dying clinics in Switzerland
We’re all born to adore ourselves, but not all of us grow up
Rumours of dubious treatments are spreading on social media in West Africa, while fishy Ebola treatments are being peddled to anxious US citizens
The type of Ebola erupting in West Africa is closely related to one found 2,500 miles away — the distance between Boston and San Francisco. How did the virus spread so far without anyone noticing?
The tendency of Clostridium novyi to kill mammal cells has been used to shrink tumours in dogs and people, so the bacteria could help fight some cancers
The Burns Collection consists of human cadavers from the early 1800s that were anatomically dissected and preserved to teach anatomy and surgery to medical students. For the first time this portion of the collection is on display to the public as a part of traveling exhibit "Mummies of the World: The Exhibition."