A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists concluded that the years studying diabetes in animal models would have been better spent by focusing on more human-relevant models, like human cells.
In 2006, the Diabetes Research Institute announced that despite spending millions of dollars and spending 30 years of research on rodents, we now know that “the internal structure of human insulin-producing islet cells is dramatically different than the well studied islets in rodents - a striking finding that will impact the way research is conducted if it is to benefit people living with diabetes.” The release went on to say: “Now, scientists from the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have shown that the composition of a human islet is so different than that of the rodent model, it is no longer relevant for human studies.”
"Our major finding is that human pancreatic islets have a unique architecture, and work differently than rodent islets," said Per-Olof Berggren, adjunct professor at the Diabetes Research Institute and professor at the Rolf Luft Center for Diabetes Research at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. "We can no longer rely on studies in mice and rats. It is now imperative that we focus on human islets. At the end of the day, it is the only way to understand how they function."