€6 million allocated for stem cell research that could help diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on February 5, 2014

Scientists in Europe have been awarded a €6 million grant to develop insulin producing cells which could one day be used for treating diabetes.

The grant from the European Commission is for a project called HumEn which brings together the main institutes carrying out stem cell research. The work will be coordinated by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.


A deficiency of insulin underlies all forms of diabetes, and currently affects 366 million individuals worldwide

The aim is achieve the complete maturation of human pluripotent stem cells into transplantable functional insulin producing beta cells that may cure diabetes. This has not yet been achieved in the laboratory.

The advantage of pluripotent stem cells as a source of beta cells is that, in theory, they represent an unlimited source of insulin producing cells.

The HumEn project brings together six institutional partners and three industrial partners. Together, they bring their expertise in complementary research sectors such as the development and physiology of beta cells, beta cell transplantation, biology of human pluripotent stem cells, polymer chemistry, specialised engineering and epigenetics,’ said a research spokesman.

‘The ultimate objective is to develop functional beta cells that produce insulin and respond to glucose, and to enable patients to benefit from these advances in treatment as early as possible,’ said Raphael Scharfmann, a research director at Inserm, one of the research partners.

‘We hope that the knowledge generated by this project will contribute one day to improved treatment and quality of life for the growing population of people with diabetes,’ he added.

A deficiency of insulin underlies all forms of diabetes, and currently affects 366 million individuals worldwide. In Europe, the number of people with diabetes is estimated at 52.8 million.

Beta cells play a central role in diabetes. They are located in the pancreas and produce insulin, the hormone that controls the transport of energy in the form of glucose to the muscles via the bloodstream.

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys the beta cells, whereas in type 2 diabetes, sensitivity to insulin is reduced, causing the body to require increasingly larger quantities of insulin, which the beta cells cannot secrete.

At present, the only solution for replacing destroyed or dysfunctional beta cells is transplantation with a complete pancreas or with islets of functional cells. Only a small number of patients qualify for this treatment, because of the shortage of donors.

The other institutions taking part are the German Research Centre for Environmental health, the University of Edinburgh, Inserm in France, the University of Uppsala in Sweden, and the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Germany.

HumEn is becoming part of a vast European consortium working on stem cells.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ivan June 15, 2018 at 4:58 am

Did it work? 4 years ago and no info.


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