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At a three-day August conference held in Oxford, England, organized by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the JDF, researchers unveiled a variety of findings that might indicate a source for beta cells.
Topics addressed at the conference spanned the spectrum of diabetes research. Among the scientists speaking was Bob Sorenson, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, who discussed the increase in islets in women during pregnancy, possibly due to hormones moderating and stimulating production.
Sarah Ferber, PhD, of the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, spoke of her research on converting liver cells to beta cells. The procedure has generated some positive results in laboratory mice.
Other research presented focused on everything from examining zebra fish mutants to cultivating human islet cells in vitro. This last procedure, presented by Susan Bonner-Weir of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard University in Boston, seeks to develop human islets from digested pancreatic tissue that is usually discarded.
Attendees at the conference also heard from Shimon Effrat, associate professor at the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv. Dr. Effrat is working on several beta cell projects, including a new encapsulation technique and an artificial pancreas that is currently being tested in pigs.