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Stem Cells International
Volume 2011, Article ID 424986, 8 pages
Review Article

Stem Cell-Based Approaches for the Treatment of Diabetes

1SAAD Centre for Pharmacy & Diabetes, Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK
2Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine, Keele University, Keele ST5 5BG, UK

Received 15 December 2010; Accepted 18 March 2011

Academic Editor: Claudio Napoli

Copyright © 2011 Catriona Kelly 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.


The incidence of diabetes and the associated debilitating complications are increasing at an alarming rate worldwide. Current therapies for type 1 diabetes focus primarily on administration of exogenous insulin to help restore glucose homeostasis. However, such treatment rarely prevents the long-term complications of this serious metabolic disorder, including neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy, and cardiovascular disease. Whole pancreas or islet transplantations have enjoyed limited success in some individuals, but these approaches are hampered by the shortage of suitable donors and the burden of lifelong immunosuppression. Here, we review current approaches to differentiate nonislet cell types towards an islet-cell phenotype which may be used for larger-scale cell replacement strategies. In particular, the differentiation protocols used to direct embryonic stem cells, progenitor cells of both endocrine and nonendocrine origin, and induced pluripotent stem cells towards an islet-cell phenotype are discussed.