MSK researchers are using stem cells as a tool to link genes and diseases, such as diabetes and pancreatic cancer. Read more below about what the researchers discovered.
The ability to isolate and grow pluripotent stem cells has offered many new opportunities for biological and medical research since the technique was first developed about 20 years ago. These cells are remarkable because they have the ability to develop into any type of cell in the body — from liver cells to nerve cells to heart cells and more.
The field of regenerative medicine is based on the premise that doctors may eventually be able to engineer stem cells to replace tissues that have been lost due to injury or disease. Increasingly, pluripotent stem cells are also proving to be a valuable tool in the lab, especially for studying how genetic changes affect cell growth and division.
In a new study published February 9 in the journal Cell Stem Cell, a team of researchers led by Memorial Sloan Kettering developmental biologist Danwei Huangfu has demonstrated the value of using pluripotent stem cells to study how pancreatic cells form in a person. Their research has implications for the study of diabetes — a disease characterized by dysfunction in certain types of pancreas cells — as well as pancreatic cancer.