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Human Embryonic Cells Produce Insulin

A solution to diabetes is finally within reach, according to Geron Corporation, a US-based company that specializes in developing cures for the treatment of cancer and other degenerative diseases. The company has also pioneered the use of human embryonic stem cells for therapeutic claims. With the knowledge that human embryonic stem cells were found to produce insulin, Geron hand-in-hand with Canadian researchers, formulated a technique that restores insulin-producing cells in patients with Type l diabetes. They called this project the Edmonton Protocol. Geron is now working on purifying and perfecting these cells and testing them on animals.

According to researchers, these cells produce islet-like clusters which resemble the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. In lab dishes, these cells produced three of the major hormones produced by islet cells namely: insulin, glucagon and somatostatin. These cells, when injected with high levels of glucose, secreted insulin – something that they are supposed to do in the body.

Stem cells, specifically from human embryos (since they are considered as the most flexible) are hopefully being turned into desired pancreatic cells, and Geron has been pioneering in working on this study. In an official statement, Geron President and Chief Executive Officer Dr.Thomas Okarma said, “It is the work published today that demonstrates the potential of human embryonic stem cells to enable the ready availability of uniform, functional islet cells for therapeutic administration.”

However, use of human embryonic cells is a huge controversy because a lot of people oppose, on moral grounds, the use of human embryos as a source of the cells in question.

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