Scientists create new method to grow 3-D mini artificial pancreas to fight diabetes

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pancreas cellsWhile Medtronic (MDT) is at work to launch its new artificial pancreas system, researchers at the University of Copenhagen have come up with a new 3-D method with potential to create mini human pancreas. It would be used to fight diabetes, allowing drugs to be tested quickly without using animals.

The process uses a 3-D culture that “enables the efficient expansion of pancreatic cells.” It allows cell material from mice “to grow vividly in picturesque tree-like structures.” The research points to this innovative method has strong potential to lead to creating mini human pancreas.

“The new method allows the cell material to take a three-dimensional shape enabling them to multiply more freely.  It’s like a plant where you use effective fertilizer, think of the laboratory like a garden and the scientist being the gardener,” Dr.  Anne Grapin-Botton, lead of the research team, said in a release.  The cells are “social” and need a minimum of four pancreatic cells in close proximity to thrive.

“We think this is an important step towards the production of cells for diabetes therapy, both to produce mini-organs for drug testing and insulin-producing cells as spare parts. We show that the pancreatic cells care not only about how you feed them but need to be grown in the right physical environment. We are now trying to adapt this method to human stem cells.”

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Lindsey Alexander

By Lindsey Alexander

Lindsey Alexander is an Indiana-based freelance writer and editor covering the medical device industry. She earned a degree in journalism from Indiana University and a master's from Purdue.
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