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Dev Growth Differ. 2005 Aug;47(6):393-402.

Stem-cell-based approaches for regenerative medicine.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics, Kumamoto University, Honjo 2-2-1, Kumamoto 860-0811, Japan.


Recent success in transplantation of islets raises the hopes of diabetic patients that replacement therapies may be a feasible treatment of their disease. Although several lines of evidence suggest that stem cells exist in the pancreas, it is still technically hard for us to isolate or maintain the stem cells in vitro. The establishment of human embryonic stem (ES) cells has excited scientists regarding their potential medical use in tissue replacement therapy. When applied with appropriate signals, ES cells can be directed to differentiate into a specific cell lineage. Therefore, ES cells are no doubt an excellent source not only for regenerative medicine but also for studies of early events of pancreatic development, and to portray the pancreatic progenitor cells. Despite many attempts that have been tried, the efficiency of differentiation of ES cells into islets is still very low. This low efficiency reflects our lack of understanding of the intrinsic and extrinsic signals which regulate the developmental processes of the pancreas. In this review, I present a summary of recent works on ES cells, the identification of pancreatic progenitor cells from the adult pancreas, and refer to the possibilities of transdifferentiation from adult stem cells derived from other tissues.

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