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Panminerva Medica 2008 March;50(1):73-9

Copyright © 2008 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Differentiation of embryonic and adult stem cells into insulin producing cells

Zulewski H.

Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Clinical Nutrition Department of Biomedicine, University Hospital Basel Basel, Switzerland


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Replacement of insulin producing cells represents an almost ideal treatment for patients with diabetes mellitus type 1. Transplantation of pancreatic islets of Langerhans is successful in experienced centers. The wider application of this therapy, however, is limited by the lack of donor organs. Insulin producing cells generated from stem cells represent an attractive alternative. Stem cells with the potential to differentiate into insulin producing cells include embryonic stem cells (ESC) as well as adult stem cells from various tissues including the pancreas, liver, bone marrow and adipose tissue. The use of human ESC is hampered by ethical concerns but research with human ESC may help us to decipher important steps in the differentiation process in vitro since almost all information available on pancreas development are based on animal studies. The present review summarizes the current knowledge on the development of insulin producing cells from embryonic and adult stem cells with special emphasis on pancreatic, hepatic and human mesenchymal stem cells.

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