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Good-bye Insulin Shots

Posted September. 26, 2005 06:15,   


An international joint research team led by a Korean scientist has developed technology that can mass produce beta cells for diabetes treatments for the first time in the world.

This breakthrough will make it possible to treat diabetics without the injection of insulin and by implanting beta cells.

Professor Yoon Ji-won (70), head of the Rosalind Franklin Diabetes Research Center at Chicago Medical School in the U.S. said on September 25 that “with a team led by doctor Gobayashi Nagoya of Okayama University in Japan, we developed a method to mass produce cells that function similarly to pancreatic beta cells in test tubes.”

The team led by Yoon succeeded in treating diabetic mice with the cells.

The achievement of the research was issued in the online version of “Nature Biotechnology,” a world-renowned academic journal in the biotechnology field, and was adopted as the cover paper in the October issue of this journal.

The team separated beta cells from the pancreas of a normal human body, inserted retrovirus genes in them and manipulated them to let them increase infinitely. Every cell out of those 250 cells was found to have the same function as beta cells in human bodies.

Doctor Jeon Hee-sook (48) of the Diabetes Research Center at Chicago Medical School said, “We can multiply the cells in the needed amount in test tubes. Before implanting the beta cells in animals, we remove virus-related genes.”

Professor Yoon added that “we plan to make them available to treat diabetics in two or three years.”

The research was evaluated as a remarkable achievement. Famous dailies in the U.S. and France showed an enormous interest in it.

Yoon is a world-renowned expert in diabetes with a 30-year research career. The professor was the senior researcher for the NIH (National Health of Institutes), a chair professor of the Canadian government in the diabetics’ research field, and currently is the head of the Diabetes Research Center at Chicago Medical School.