The use of β-cell transcription factors in engineering artificial β cells from non-pancreatic tissue

Gene Ther. 2015 Jan;22(1):1-8. doi: 10.1038/gt.2014.93. Epub 2014 Oct 23.


Type 1 diabetes results from the autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta (β) cells. Patients with type 1 diabetes control their blood glucose levels using several daily injections of exogenous insulin; however, this does not eliminate the long-term complications of hyperglycaemia. Currently, the only clinically viable treatments for type 1 diabetes are whole pancreas and islet transplantation. As a result, there is an urgent need to develop alternative therapies. Recently, cell and gene therapy have shown promise as a potential cure for type 1 diabetes through the genetic engineering of 'artificial' β cells to regulate blood glucose levels without adverse side effects and the need for immunosuppression. This review compares putative target cells and the use of pancreatic transcription factors for gene modification, with the ultimate goal of engineering a glucose-responsive 'artificial' β cell that mimics the function of pancreatic β cells, while avoiding autoimmune destruction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Dedifferentiation
  • Cell Transdifferentiation
  • Cellular Reprogramming
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / physiology*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / transplantation
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transduction, Genetic


  • Transcription Factors