Enrichment of stem cell-derived pancreatic beta-like cells and controlled graft size through pharmacological removal of proliferating cells

Stem Cell Reports. 2023 Jun 13;18(6):1284-1294. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2023.05.010.


Transplantation of limited human cadaveric islets into type 1 diabetic patients results in ∼35 months of insulin independence. Direct differentiation of stem cell-derived insulin-producing beta-like cells (sBCs) that can reverse diabetes in animal models effectively removes this shortage constraint, but uncontrolled graft growth remains a concern. Current protocols do not generate pure sBCs, but consist of only 20%-50% insulin-expressing cells with additional cell types present, some of which are proliferative. Here, we show the selective ablation of proliferative cells marked by SOX9 by simple pharmacological treatment in vitro. This treatment concomitantly enriches for sBCs by ∼1.7-fold. Treated sBC clusters show improved function in vitro and in vivo transplantation controls graft size. Overall, our study provides a convenient and effective approach to enrich for sBCs while minimizing the presence of unwanted proliferative cells and thus has important implications for current cell therapy approaches.

Keywords: cell replacement therapy; chemotherapy drugs; direct differentiation; human pluripotent stem cells; pancreatic insulin-producing beta cells; teratoma prevention; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy
  • Humans
  • Insulin*
  • Pancreas*
  • Stem Cells


  • Insulin