Novocell Teams with Japanese Stem Cell Star

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego-based Novocell, a developer of embryonic stem cell therapies for diabetes, said today it has formed a partnership with one of the world leaders in stem cell biology, Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University.

Yamanaka dominated headlines a year ago when his team, along with James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin, showed they could coax adult skin cells to have all the properties of embryonic stem cells, which have potential to morph into any cell type in the body. This was a big deal, because in theory, it could circumvent much of the ethical controversy surrounding research that destroys human embryos in order to harvest stem cells.

Yamanaka’s team in Japan will combine his expertise with reprogramming cells with Novocell’s work to create human islet cells in the pancreas that can produce insulin for diabetics. The collaboration is at the basic research stage, and no commercial agreement has been signed, Novocell said.

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