A journey from the insulin gene to reprogramming pancreatic tissue


  • Kevin Docherty Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen




gene therapy and diabetes, embryonic stem cells and diabetes, reprogramming and diabetes, pancreatic transcription factors, Islets of Langerhans


This article was written as a contribution to mark the centenary of the first administration of insulin to a human in 1922. Writing from an Aberdeen perspective, an introductory passage will place emphasis on the role of JJR MacLeod, under whose supervision the discovery of insulin by Banting and Best was made. The major thrust of the article, however, will be on the cloning and sequencing of the human insulin gene, and the impact it had on the scientific career of the author. It initiated a journey to find alternative therapies for diabetes that led sequentially though gene therapy, embryonic stem cell-derived islets, and reprogramming. Our experience in these areas will be described, with emphasis on the strengths and weaknesses of each of these approaches.


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