London, March 26 (IANS) Just as humans, stem cells interact with each other but finally take their own individual decisions, says a new study. The research published in the scientific journal PLOS Biology could eventually lead to a better control over the production of insulin-producing endocrine cells for diabetes therapy, the researchers noted.
For the study, the researchers focused on marking the progenitor cells of the embryonic pancreas, commonly referred to as ‘mothers’, and their ‘daughters’ in different fluorescent colours and then captured them on video to analyse how they make decisions.
“It is the first time we have made movies of a quality that is high enough to follow thousands of individual cells in this organ, for periods of time that are long enough for us to follow the slow decision process”, said professor Anne Grapin- Botton from University of Copenhagen in Denamrk.
By looking at individual cells, the scientists found that even within one group of cells presumed to be of the same type, some would divide many times to make the organ bigger while others would become specialised and would stop dividing.
By observing enough cells, they were able to extract logic rules of decision-making, and with the help of Pau Rue, a mathematician from the University of Cambridge, they developed a mathematical model to make long-term predictions over multiple generations of cells.
Knowing how the stem cells would behave could be a big step towards the worldwide quest to produce insulin-producing cells from stem cells, for their transplantation in diabetic patients, the researchers pointed out.