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Regenerative Medicine for Diabetes: Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells into Functional β-Cells In Vitro and Their Proposed Journey to Clinical Translation

Posted March 10, 2014
This news or article is intended for readers with certain scientific or professional knowledge in the field.

Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases, rising globally at an alarming rate. Type 1 (juvenile diabetes) is the autoimmune version of diabetes where the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, whereas Type 2 (adult onset diabetes) is caused due to insulin resistance of the cells.

In either of the cases, elevated blood glucose levels are observed which leads to progressive comorbidity like renal failure, cardiovascular disease, retinopathy, etc. Metformin, sulphonyl urea group of drugs, as well as insulin injections are the available therapies. In advanced cases of diabetes, the drug alone or drug in combination with insulin injections are not able to maintain a steady level of blood glucose.

Moreover, frequent insulin injections are rather cumbersome for the patient. So, regenerative medicine could be a permanent solution for fighting diabetes. Islet transplantation has been tried with a limited amount of success on a large population of diabetics because of the shortage of cadaveric pancreas.

Therefore, the best proposed alternative is regenerative medicine involving human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived beta islet transplantation which can be obtained in large quantities. Efficient protocols for in vitro differentiation of hPSC into a large number of sustained insulin-producing beta cells for transplantation will be considered to be a giant leap to address global rise in diabetic cases.

Although most of the protocols mimic in vivo pancreatic development in humans, considerable amount of lacuna persists for near-perfect differentiation strategies. Moreover, beta islets differentiated from hPSC have not yet been successfully translated under clinical scenario.

Source: PubMed

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