Frog research team makes diabetes leap

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SCOTTISH scientists have made a breakthrough towards developing stem cell treatments for diabetes after carrying out research on an African frog.

Researchers at the Institute for Stem Cell Research at Edinburgh University have revealed a key protein they believe can be used to encourage

embryonic stem cells to develop into the insulin-producing pancreatic cells that malfunction in patients with diabetes.

Dr Josh Brickman, who led the team that carried out the research, found that in the African clawed frog a protein called Wnt helped form the cells in an embryo, which are the precursor of the pancreas and liver.

They have also found the protein appears to do the same job in mouse embryos.

Brickman said he hoped the protein could now be used to turn embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing cells - a Holy Grail for diabetes doctors.

The group claim the insulin-producing cells could then be used to test new therapies for treating diabetes and could even become the basis for stem cell therapy for diabetics.