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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 296485, 9 pages
Review Article

Genetically Engineered Islets and Alternative Sources of Insulin-Producing Cells for Treating Autoimmune Diabetes: Quo Vadis?

1Department and Graduate Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, National Defense Medical Center, Neihu, Taipei 114, Taiwan
2Department of General Surgery, Tri-Service General Hospital, Taipei 114, Taiwan

Received 22 October 2011; Accepted 29 March 2012

Academic Editor: Subbiah Pugazhenthi

Copyright © 2012 Feng-Cheng Chou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Islet transplantation is a promising therapy for patients with type 1 diabetes that can provide moment-to-moment metabolic control of glucose and allow them to achieve insulin independence. However, two major problems need to be overcome: (1) detrimental immune responses, including inflammation induced by the islet isolation/transplantation procedure, recurrence autoimmunity, and allorejection, can cause graft loss and (2) inadequate numbers of organ donors. Several gene therapy approaches and pharmaceutical treatments have been demonstrated to prolong the survival of pancreatic islet grafts in animal models; however, the clinical applications need to be investigated further. In addition, for an alternative source of pancreatic β-cell replacement therapy, the ex vivo generation of insulin-secreting cells from diverse origins of stem/progenitor cells has become an attractive option in regenerative medicine. This paper focuses on the genetic manipulation of islets during transplantation therapy and summarizes current strategies to obtain functional insulin-secreting cells from stem/progenitor cells.