World diabetes Day 2017: Raising Awareness and Hope – University of Copenhagen

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14 November 2017

World diabetes Day 2017: Raising Awareness and Hope

stem cells and diabetes

415 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with diabetes and the number continues to rise. Common to all diabetes patients is lacking the ability to produce sufficient amounts of insulin, which regulates the blood sugar in the body. This can lead to a number of complications and in many cases be potentially fatal.

Diabetes is a common life-long condition and the number of children being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is increasing. There are currently no proven treatments for diabetes using stem cells, however, if beta cells could be made in the lab, it could solve the problem of obtaining the right number and quality of cells to replace the patients’ missing or dysfunctional beta cells through transplantation of stem-cell derived beta cells.

Diabetes Research at DanStem

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Biology, DanStem, addresses basic Research questions such as how stem cells differentiate and how a cell’s fate in an organism is determined. Several groups study the development of the pancreas to better understand the specification of insulin-secreting beta cells, read more.  

The center consists of  11 research groups who all address basic questions in stem cell and developmental biology with the overall aim of developing of new therapies for cancer and chronic diseases such as diabetes and liver failure.

Latest achievements

A new stem cell study conducted by the Semb group, shows how we may increase the vital production of insulin in patients suffering from diabetes. The discovery helps to more efficiently make insulin-producing beta cells from human stem cells, read more.

The group discovered that cells’ sense of direction (cell polarity) determines their destiny. By discovering the signals that control cell polarity in the developing pancreas, scientists can now mimic it in a test tube and control the fate of human stem cells into beta cells. The results accelerate the efforts to generate insulin-producing beta cells, from stem cells to treat and maybe even cure Type 1 diabetes, read more


PanCryos is a prospective spin out company arising from the Semb group at DanStem, aiming to develop a next generation stem cell derived allogenic cell therapy (PanINSULA™) for type 1 diabetes, based on novel IP in the differentiation of stem cells into mature beta cells and in the purification of pancreatic progenitor cells. The long-term aim is to develop up-scaled manufacturing protocols of mature beta cells for future clinical needs, read more.  

Our overall aim is to establish a stem cell-based cell therapy programme covering all relevant steps from basic research to patients, primarily with unstable condition with difficulty controlling their sugar levels. These patients may benefit from cell transplants which we hope to be able to test on human in the near future.

*World Diabetes Day is the primary global awareness campaign focusing on diabetes and is held on November 14 each year.