The pancreas is a vital organ in our digestive system that breaks down sugars, fats, and starches.
The pancreas is a vital organ in our digestive system that breaks down sugars, fats, and starches by producing enzymes, better known as pancreatic juices. It also helps our digestive system by making hormones. Pancreatic hormones help regulate our blood sugar levels and appetite, stimulate stomach acids, and tells the stomach when to empty.
Insulin, one of the many hormones produced in the pancreas, is produced by beta cells. Insulin helps the body to use sugar for the energy it needs and stores the rest. When there is not enough insulin, the sugar levels build up in our blood, a condition that can lead to diabetes. The generation of new beta cells is a major target for the stem cell treatment of diabetes, with many approaches currently in the pre-clinical phase.
reNEW researchers study how stem cells can be used to generate replacement insulin-producing beta cells, cells found in the pancreas within clusters called islets. They focus on the cell identity of these islets, and how they function in the context of Type 1 diabetes.