Sizing up beta cells made from stem cells

Sizing up beta cells made from stem cells

A thorough study of lab-made pancreatic beta cells reveals their differences from primary cells.

The ability to generate pancreatic beta cells from pluripotent stem cells is a long-sought goal that promises to provide an unlimited source of cells for treating people with diabetes. Differentiation methods1,2 reported in 2014 showed the potential of the approach, but the resulting cells did not fully recapitulate the defining feature of mature beta cells: regulated secretion of insulin in response to glucose. Despite steady technical improvements since then, the stem cell–derived beta cells (SC-beta cells) that can be produced today are still physiologically and transcriptionally different from primary beta cells3,4,5. Writing in Nature Biotechnology, Balboa, Barsby, Lithovius et al.6 present a modified differentiation protocol and comprehensive physiological and molecular analyses to benchmark SC-beta cells against primary beta cells. This work offers an important resource as it highlights critical aspects of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in which SC-beta cells differ from their primary counterparts.

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Fig. 1: Physiological characterization of human pluripotent stem cell-derived islets relative to primary islets.

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Affiliations

  1. Departments of Pediatrics and Cellular & Molecular Medicine, Pediatric Diabetes Research Center, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

    Kim-Vy Nguyen-Ngoc, Matthew Wortham & Maike Sander

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Correspondence to
Maike Sander.

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The author declares no competing interests.

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Nguyen-Ngoc, KV., Wortham, M. & Sander, M. Sizing up beta cells made from stem cells.
Nat Biotechnol (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41587-022-01271-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41587-022-01271-9

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