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Transl Res. 2014 Apr;163(4):418-31. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2013.11.012. Epub 2013 Nov 27.

Adult tissue sources for new β cells.

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Department of Genetics, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
Department of Medicine, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, Calif.
Department of Medicine, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, Calif. Electronic address:


The diabetes pandemic incurs extraordinary public health and financial costs that are projected to expand for the foreseeable future. Consequently, the development of definitive therapies for diabetes is a priority. Currently, a wide spectrum of therapeutic strategies-from implantable insulin delivery devices to transplantation-based cell replacement therapy, to β-cell regeneration-focus on replacing the lost insulin-producing capacity of individuals with diabetes. Among these, β-cell regeneration remains promising but heretofore unproved. Indeed, recent experimental work has uncovered surprising biology that underscores the potential therapeutic benefit of β-cell regeneration. These studies have elucidated a variety of sources for the endogenous production of new β cells from existing cells. First, β cells, long thought to be postmitotic, have demonstrated the potential for regenerative capacity. Second, the presence of pancreatic facultative endocrine progenitor cells has been established. Third, the malleability of cellular identity has availed the possibility of generating β cells from other differentiated cell types. Here, we review the exciting developments surrounding endogenous sources of β-cell production and consider the potential of realizing a regenerative therapy for diabetes from adult tissues.

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