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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Harvard Stem Cell Institute Researchers Create Insulin-Producing Cells from Adult Pancreatic Cells



8/28/2008 6:32:03 AM

HHMI -- Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have converted adult pancreatic cells into insulin-producing beta cells in living mice. This is a first because the researchers directly changed the functional identity of adult cells without using embryonic stem cells or relying on techniques that reverse a cell's genetic programming to its earliest stages. Remarkably, the investigators repurposed the adult cells quickly by using viruses to shuttle just three regulatory genes that triggered the remarkable developmental changes. It took only a brief blip of activity by the regulatory genes to imbue the cells with their new job descriptions, which they have retained for as long as nine months. (Nature)

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