Embryonic stem cell therapy for diabetes mellitus

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2007 Dec;18(6):827-38. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2007.09.009. Epub 2007 Sep 11.


There is a compelling need to develop novel therapies for diabetes mellitus. Recent successes in the transplantation of islets of Langerhans are seen as a major breakthrough. However, there is huge disparity between potential recipients and the availability of donor tissue. Human embryonic stem cells induced to form pancreatic beta cells could provide a replenishable supply of tissue. Early studies on the spontaneous differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells have laid the foundation for a more directed approach based on recapitulating the events that occur during the development of the pancreas in the mouse. A high yield of definitive endoderm has been achieved, and although beta-like cells can be generated in a step-wise manner, the efficiency is still low and the final product is not fully differentiated. Future challenges include generating fully functional islet cells under Xeno-free and chemically defined conditions and circumventing the need for immunosuppression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / transplantation
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*