Genetic instructions for pancreas development

Scientists have mapped the genetic instructions for pancreas development, providing information that could aid research into diabetes treatments.

In a study published in Nature Cell Biology, researchers at Imperial College London mapped regions of the genome that are active in early pancreas development. These include not only genes, but also the sequences that don’t encode proteins, called non-coding regions. Until recently most of the non-coding genome was thought of as unimportant.

The results identify a new pathway that regulates pancreas development. The findings will be valuable for efforts to grow pancreas cells in the lab from stem cells. In people with type 1 diabetes, the immune system kills the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, called beta cells. Growing new beta cells in the lab and transplanting them could be an effective treatment in the future.

Mapping the non-coding regions that regulate pancreas development could also provide insights into pancreatic cancer and other diseases that may arise from errors in the cells’ genetic programme.

You can read more about the research.

More articles     Posted on: 28 April 2015