Type 1 diabetes is a metabolic disease resulting in the selective loss of pancreatic insulin-producing β-cells and affecting millions of people worldwide. The side effects of diabetes are varied and include cardiovascular, neuropathologic, and kidney diseases. Despite the most recent advances in diabetes care, patients suffering from type 1 diabetes still display a shortened life expectancy compared to their healthy counterparts. In an effort to improve β-cell-replacement therapies, numerous approaches are currently being pursued, most of these aiming at finding ways to differentiate stem/progenitor cells into β-like cells by mimicking embryonic development. Unfortunately, these efforts have hitherto not allowed the generation of fully functional β-cells. This chapter summarizes recent findings, allowing a better insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying the genesis of β-cells during the course of pancreatic morphogenesis. Furthermore, a focus is made on new research avenues concerning the conversion of pre-existing pancreatic cells into β-like cells, such approaches holding great promise for the development of type 1 diabetes therapies.
Keywords: Diabetes; Islets of Langerhans; Mouse; Pancreatic development; Regeneration; β-Cell.
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