Scientists want to use patients' cells to treat diabetes

August 27, 2008 2:02:29 PM PDT
Some scientists predict that one day doctors can treat disease by using the patient's own cells. Now, a breakthrough in cell transformation means that day might be closer than previously thought. Harvard University scientists successfully transformed pancreatic cells from adult mice into insulin-producing beta cells. It's the first time such a cell makeover was done in a living subject.

The achievement is being hailed as a step forward in finding treatments or a cure for type 1 and 2 diabetes, which involve problems with the body's ability to produce insulin. The process involved injecting genes that encode proteins which turn on and off other sets of genes into the pancreases of adult mice.

The team's work is reported in the online journal Nature.