An Oxygen Sandwich Helps Pancreatic Stem Cells Become Beta Cells

| Sep 27, 2007

Despite their best efforts, researchers have been having a hard time getting pancreatic stem cells to grow up into beta cells that can be used for transplantation.

Apparently, part of the problem has been that the stem cells, sitting in their suffocating little Petri dishes, haven't been getting the oxygen bath that they need to develop into beta cells.

So researchers from the Diabetes Research Institute, at the University of Miami, created a way to sandwich the stem cells between two oxygen sources: a top one that diffuses air through the culture medium, and a bottom one that diffuses air through a silicon membrane mixed with perfluorocarbon, a rich oxygen reservoir.

Hitting the stem cells from both sides with oxygen proved very effective, at least with mouse pancreatic stem cells: They morphed into beta cells at a great rate, producing thirty times as much insulin as the cultures raised without the nourishing sandwich.

Because the sandwich more closely mimics the physiological conditions under which stem cells mature in the body, the researchers believe it will be of use to scientists no matter what kind of stem cells they're trying to raise up.

Source: Diabetes Research Institute Foundation

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Sep 27, 2007

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