Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

UNC-CH Scientists Turn Human Skin Cells Into Insulin-Producing Cells

Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Bookmark and Share
Researchers have transformed cells from human skin into cells that produce insulin, the hormone used to treat diabetes.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have transformed cells from human skin into cells that produce insulin, the hormone used to treat diabetes.

The breakthrough may one day lead to new treatments or even a cure for the millions of people affected by the disease, researchers say.

The approach involves reprogramming skin cells into pluripotent stem cells, or cells that can give rise to any other fetal or adult cell type, and then inducing them to differentiate, or transform, into cells that perform a particular function – in this case, secreting insulin.

Several recent studies have shown that cells can be returned to pluripotent state using “defined factors” (specific proteins that control which genes are active in a cell), a technique pioneered by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, a professor at Kyoto University in Japan.

However, the UNC study is the first to demonstrate that cells reprogrammed in this way can be coaxed to differentiate into insulin-secreting cells. Results of the study are published online in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

“Not only have we shown that we can reprogram skin cells, but we have also demonstrated that these reprogrammed cells can be differentiated into insulin-producing cells which hold great therapeutic potential for diabetes,” said study lead author Yi Zhang, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UNC and member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Of course, there are many years of additional studies that are required first, but this study provides hope for a cure for all patients with diabetes,” said John Buse, M.D., Ph.D., president of the American Diabetes Association and professor and chief of the endocrinology division in the UNC School of Medicine’s department of medicine.

About 24 million Americans suffer from diabetes, a disease that occurs when the body is unable to produce or use insulin properly. Virtually all patients with type I diabetes, the more severe of the two types, must rely on daily injections of insulin to maintain their blood sugar levels.

Recent research exploring a possible long-term treatment – the transplantation of insulin-producing beta cells into patients – has yielded promising results. But this approach faces its own challenges, given the extreme shortage of matched organ donors and the need to suppress patients’ immune systems.

The work by Zhang and other researchers could potentially address those problems, since insulin-producing cells could be made from diabetic patients’ own reprogrammed cells.

Zhang is collaborating with Buse to obtain skin samples from diabetes patients. He said he hoped his current experiments will take this approach one step closer to a new treatment or even a cure for diabetes.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

New Way to Force Stem Cells to Become Bone Cells
Potential therapies based on this discovery could help people heal bone injuries or set hardware, such as replacement knees and hips.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Autism Mutation Isolated – Could Be Treated with Specific Enzyme
The research shows the precise cellular mechanisms that could increase risk for the disorder and how an existing drug might help thousands of people with autism.
Monday, August 10, 2015
Researchers Find Two Biomarkers Linked to Severe Heart Disease
Study suggests that elevated oxidized LDL cholesterol and fructosamine – a measure of glycated proteins in blood sugar – are signposts for the development of severe coronary disease, especially in females.
Thursday, July 09, 2015
A Single-Cell Breakthrough
UNC School of Medicine scientist Scott Magness and collaborators use their newly developed technology to dissect properties of single stem cells. The advancement will allow researchers to study gastrointestinal disorders and cancers like never before.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
New Gene Therapy For Hemophilia Shows Potential As Safe Treatment
Research showed that bleeding events were drastically decreased in animals with hemophilia B. Using a viral vector to swap out faulty genes proved safe and could be used for the more common hemophilia A.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Genetically Speaking, Mammals Are More Like Their Fathers
A first of its kind study shows that who we inherit genetic variants from – our mother or father – is crucial for the development of diseases and for research studies aimed at finding causes and potential treatments.
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Key Protein That Allows Plavix To Conquer Platelets Found
The findings could lead to more personalized approaches to controlling platelet activity during heart attacks and other vascular emergencies and diseases.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Researchers Silence Leading Cancer-Causing Gene
A novel siRNA-based molecule successfully targets KRAS, a well-studied but hard to halt protein important for cancer development and metastasis.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Blood Test May Help Determine Psychosis Risk
A study led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers represents an important step forward in the accurate diagnosis of people who are experiencing the earliest stages of psychosis.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
New Gene Therapy Proves Promising as Hemophilia Treatment
Researchers package specialized blood platelets with genes that express clotting factor, leading to fewer bleeding events.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
New Findings Regarding DNA Damage Checkpoint Mechanism in Oxidative Stress
Scientists uncover previously unknown surveillance mechanism.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Medical Diagnostics Company STAT-Diagnostica Secures $22.1 Million in Financing
Proceeds will be used to complete development of the company’s Near Patient Testing diagnostic system and clinical validation of its first products.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Researchers Pinpoint How Trees Play Role in Smog Production
After years of scientific uncertainty and speculation, researchers show exactly how trees help create one of society’s predominant environmental and health concerns: air pollution.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Molecular Twist Helps Regulate the Cellular Message to Make Histone Proteins
Researchers show for the first time how two key proteins in messenger RNA communicate via a molecular twist to help maintain the balance of histones to DNA.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Informatics Approach Helps Doctors, Patients Make Sense of Genome Data
Researchers from UNC unveil an analysis framework aimed at helping clinicians spot “medically actionable findings” from genetic tests in an efficient manner.
Friday, September 21, 2012
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
Promising Drug Combination for Advanced Prostate Cancer
A new drug combination may be effective in treating men with metastatic prostate cancer. Preliminary results of this new approach are encouraging and have led to an ongoing international study being conducted in 196 hospitals worldwide.
A Cellular Symphony Responsible for Autoimmune Disease
Broad Institute researchers have used a novel approach to increase our understanding of the immune system as a whole.
When it Comes to Breast Cancer, Common Pigeon is No Bird Brain
If pigeons went to medical school and specialized in pathology or radiology, they’d be pretty good at distinguishing digitized microscope slides and mammograms of normal vs. cancerous breast tissue, a new study has found.
Editing of LIMS Data Made Faster and More Efficient in Matrix Gemini
The latest version of the Matrix Gemini LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) from Autoscribe Informatics now provides faster and more efficient editing of LIMS data by eliminating the need for a second editing screen.
University of Edinburgh, Selcia Achieve Key Milestones in Drug Development Program
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, working with Selcia, have successfully passed the 20-month milestone targets of a 30-month Wellcome Trust SDDi £2.5 million project to design novel treatments for sleeping sickness.
Red Clover Genome to Help Restore Sustainable Farming
The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) in collaboration with IBERS, has sequenced and assembled the DNA of red clover to help breeders improve the beneficial traits of this important forage crop.
How a Genetic Locus Protects Adult Blood-Forming Stem Cells
Mammalian imprinted Gtl2 protects adult hematopoietic stem cells by restricting metabolic activity in the cells' mitochondria.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos