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Experimental Diabetes Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 406182, 15 pages
Review Article

Extrinsic Factors Involved in the Differentiation of Stem Cells into Insulin-Producing Cells: An Overview

Division of Human Biology, School of Medical and Health Sciences, International Medical University, No. 126, Jalan Jalil Perkasa 19, Bukit Jalil, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Received 16 February 2011; Accepted 28 March 2011

Academic Editor: A. Veves

Copyright © 2011 Rebecca S. Y. Wong. 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.


Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease with many debilitating complications. Treatment of diabetes mellitus mainly revolves around conventional oral hypoglycaemic agents and insulin replacement therapy. Recently, scientists have turned their attention to the generation of insulin-producing cells (IPCs) from stem cells of various sources. To date, many types of stem cells of human and animal origins have been successfully turned into IPCs in vitro and have been shown to exert glucose-lowering effect in vivo. However, scientists are still faced with the challenge of producing a sufficient number of IPCs that can in turn produce sufficient insulin for clinical use. A careful choice of stem cells, methods, and extrinsic factors for induction may all be contributing factors to successful production of functional beta-islet like IPCs. It is also important that the mechanism of differentiation and mechanism by which IPCs correct hyperglycaemia are carefully studied before they are used in human subjects.