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Use of human islets to understand islet biology and diabetes: progress, challenges and suggestions – published online 14/12/2018

Fig from Hart paper

Nathaniel J. Hart, Alvin C. Powers

Over the past 15 years, a marked increase in access to human islets for research and work by hundreds of investigators has greatly expanded our understanding of human islet biology. In this issue, Hart and Powers (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-018-4772-2) highlight and summarise some of these findings, especially those showing similarities and differences between human islets and islets from rodent models of diabetes. In reviewing more than 200 manuscripts reporting research on human islets, published between 2013 and 2017, the authors noted that most publications lacked critical information about the human islets used in experiments, possibly hindering the ability to reproduce and compare experimental outcomes between laboratories. The authors urge the ‘human islet research ecosystem’ to work cooperatively to develop ways to foster collaboration, transparency and experimental rigour for research using human islets. They suggest a checklist of characteristics and information about human islets that should be reported when these samples are used for research. The figures from this review are available as a downloadable slideset.

As discussed in an accompanying editorial (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-018-4784-y), Diabetologia and Diabetes have adopted a modified version of Hart and Powers’ checklist, to be completed by authors on submission.

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