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Curr Diab Rep. 2011 Oct;11(5):392-401. doi: 10.1007/s11892-011-0218-7.

Potential pathways to restore β-cell mass: pluripotent stem cells, reprogramming, and endogenous regeneration.

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  • 1Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and WiCell Research Institute, Madison, WI, USA.


Currently available β-cell replacement therapies for patients with diabetes, including islet and pancreas transplantation, are largely successful in restoring normal glucose metabolism, but the scarcity of organ donors restricts their more widespread use. To solve this supply problem, several different strategies for achieving β-cell mass restoration are being pursued. These include the generation of β cells from stem cells and their subsequent transplantation, or regeneration-type approaches, such as stimulating endogenous regenerative mechanisms or inducing reprogramming of non-β cells into β cells. Because these strategies would ultimately generate allogeneic or syngeneic β cells in humans, the control of alloimmunity and/or autoimmunity in addition to replacing lost β cells will be of utmost importance. We briefly review the recent literature on these three promising strategies toward β-cell replacement or restoration and point out the major issues impacting their translation to treating human diabetes.

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