Type 1 diabetes mellitus is an auto-immune disease causing the T-cell mediated destruction of insulin-producing β-cells, resulting in chronic hyperglycemia. Current treatments such as insulin replacement therapy or the transplantation of pancreas or pancreatic islets present major disadvantages such as the constant need of drugs, as well as a shortage of donor organs. In this review, we discuss a sustainable solution to overcome these limitations combining the use of β-cells, derived from stem cells, and their encapsulation within a protective matrix. This article provides an exhaustive overview of currently investigated stem cell sources including embryonic, mesenchymal as well as induced pluripotent stem cells in combination with various up to date encapsulation methods allowing the formation of immuno-protective devices. In order to identify current limitations of this interdisciplinary therapeutic approach and to find sustainable solutions, it is essential to consider key aspects from all involved domains. This includes biological parameters such as the stem cell origin but also the different aspects of the encapsulation process, the used materials and their physico-chemical properties such as elasticity, porosity and permeability cut-off as well as the best implantation sites allowing efficient and self-autonomous control of glycemia by the transplanted encapsulated cells.
Keywords: Diabetes; Encapsulation; Immune-isolation; Pancreatic β-cells; Stem cell differentiation.
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