Researchers have been advancing methods to generate insulin-producing beta cells from pluripotent stem cells (PSC) for the clinical treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D). However, transplantation of these immature cells into patients poses substantial risks, namely the development of tumors (teratomas) and the growth of these stem cells into unwanted cell types. Pluripotent stem cells are known to develop into all of the body’s cells and tissues.
Now, for the first time, scientists from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have engineered a human pluripotent stem cell line containing two ‘suicide genes’ that induce cell death in all but the desired insulin-producing cells. This double fail-safe approach, published online ahead of the March 5 issue of Stem Cell Reports, addresses the limitations of PSC-derived beta cells and opens the door to creating safe cell-replacement therapies for people living with T1D.
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