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The origin of insulin-expressing beta-cells in the adult mammalian pancreas is controversial. During normal tissue turnover and following injury, beta-cells may be replaced by duplication of existing beta-cells.((1)) However, an alternative source of beta-cells has recently been proposed based on neogenesis from a Ngn3-positive population present in regenerating pancreatic ducts.((2)) The appearance of beta-cells from Ngn3-positive progenitors is reminiscent of normal pancreas development, and Ngn3-expressing cells isolated from regenerating pancreas can generate the full repertoire of endocrine phenotypes. The isolation and characterisation of the equivalent human progenitors may represent a significant step forward in the hunt for a cure for diabetes.
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