An Oxygen Sandwich Helps Pancreatic Stem Cells Become Beta Cells

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By: Linda von Wartburg

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

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

So researchers from the Diabetes Research Institute, at theUniversity of Miami, created a way to sandwich the stem cellsbetween two oxygen sources: a top one that diffuses air through theculture medium, and a bottom one that diffuses air through a siliconmembrane mixed with perfluorocarbon, a rich oxygen reservoir.

Hitting the stem cells from both sides with oxygen proved veryeffective, at least with mouse pancreatic stem cells: They morphedinto beta cells at a great rate, producing thirty times as muchinsulin as the cultures raised without the nourishing sandwich.

Because the sandwich more closely mimics the physiologicalconditions under which stem cells mature in the body, theresearchers believe it will be of use to scientists no matter whatkind of stem cells they're trying to raise up.

Source: Diabetes Research Institute Foundation

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