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Stem cells not required

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10:27am, May 25, 2007

The pancreas doesn't include stem cells that become insulin producers. Instead, the cells that make the hormone proliferate by dividing, researchers have discovered. The finding could have implications for future diabetes treatments.

Many of the body's tissues harbor caches of so-called adult stem cells that act like factories, churning out fresh cells to replace old ones. Some scientists had speculated that pancreatic stem cells exist, and that they might provide new treatments for diabetes. The new research suggests that scientists should instead search for ways to encourage insulin-producing cells, called beta cells, to divide more rapidly, says Jake Kushner, lead scientist for the study at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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