In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas, which is made of many cell types with different functions, fails to produce healthy levels of the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar. For years, researchers couldn’t figure out how to consistently and efficiently create insulin-producing cells in the lab. But a recent study in Nature could hold the key. It shows how immature pancreatic “progenitor” cells respond to different cues from their environment that determine what cell types they develop into. This knowledge can help researchers coax progenitors into the crucial insulin-producing variety in the laboratory — a feat they hope will lead to new Type 1 diabetes treatments.
[This story originally appeared in print as "Build-A-Pancreas."]