Beta Cell Therapies for Preventing Type 1 Diabetes: From Bench to Bedside

Biomolecules. 2020 Dec 16;10(12):1681. doi: 10.3390/biom10121681.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by insulin deficiency, generally resulting from progressive autoimmune-mediated destruction of pancreatic beta cells. While the phenomenon of beta cell autoimmunity continues to be an active area of investigation, recent evidence suggests that beta cell stress responses are also important contributors to disease onset. Here we review the pathways driving different kinds of beta cell dysfunction and their respective therapeutic targets in the prevention of T1D. We discuss opportunities and important open questions around the effectiveness of beta cell therapies and challenges for clinical utility. We further evaluate ways in which beta cell drug therapy could be combined with immunotherapy for preventing T1D in light of our growing appreciation of disease heterogeneity and patient endotypes. Ultimately, the emergence of pharmacologic beta cell therapies for T1D have armed us with new tools and closing the knowledge gaps in T1D etiology will be essential for maximizing the potential of these approaches.

Keywords: apoptosis; immunotherapy; pancreatic beta cells; senescence; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Autoimmunity
  • DNA Damage
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / prevention & control*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Immunotherapy
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Proinsulin / metabolism
  • Translational Research, Biomedical
  • Unfolded Protein Response


  • Insulin
  • Proinsulin