The discovery of a marker to help identify and isolate stem cells that can develop into insulin-producing cells in the pancreas would be a critical step forward and is described in an article in BioResearch Open Access, a new bimonthly peer-reviewed open access journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article is available free online at the BioResearch Open Access website.
Pancreatic stem cells, the precursors of insulin-producing cells, have not yet been identified in humans or animals, and there is much debate about where they may reside. Ivka Afrikanova, Ayse Kayali, Ana Lopez, and Alberto Hayek, University of California, San Diego, CA, have identified a biochemical marker—stage-specific embryonic antigen 4 (SSEA4)—that they propose can be used to identify and purify human pancreatic stem cells. The article “ Is Stage-Specific Embryonic Antigen 4 a Marker for Human Ductal Stem/Progenitor Cells” reports that when grown in culture with high levels of glucose and B27, these SSEA4+ stem cells can differentiate into insulin-producing pancreatic cells.