London: A breakthrough in type-1 diabetes, which affects about 400,000 children and adults in Britain, has resulted from a study showing that it is possible to make vast quantities of insulin-producing cells for patient transplants. Scientists have for the first time managed to make hundreds of millions of mature human pancreatic cells to treat diabetic mice successfully over long periods of time. The researchers believe that human clinical trials could begin within a few years with long-term, subcutaneous implants that would make daily insulin injections redundant. Human stem cells were coaxed into mature “beta” cells, which make the insulin hormone within the pancreas, using a cocktail of 11 chemical growth factors. Patients with type-1 diabetes lack beta cells because they are destroyed by their own immune systems. Scientists at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who carried out the study, said that it should be possible to produce “scalable” quantities of beta pancreatic cells from stem cells in industrial-sized bioreactors and then transplant them into a patient within an implant to protect them from immune attack.– Independent