Potential new sources for beta-cell replacement therapy in diabetes type 1 patients
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Long term complications in diabetes patients are a consequence of the constantly high blood glucose levels, hyperglycemia. In patients with type 1 diabetes hyperglycemia is caused by the absence of insulin production by beta-cells, which are destructed. With beta-cell replacement therapy these destructed beta-cells can be substituted by healthy beta-cells, which are capable of producing insulin and thereby maintaining normal blood glucose levels. This procedure can be a potential cure for diabetes type 1. However, there is not enough cadaveric tissue available to help all current diabetes type 1 patients. But, by identifying the origins of beta-cells in vivo, these cells can be generated in vitro and contribute to an expanded mass. Thereby, a new source was discovered, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which can differentiate into insulin producing cells, after redifferentiation into an ES cell-like stage. In this review potential sources of newly formed beta-cells will be discussed, with focus on iPS cells. Also the safety issues that must be overcome before these cells can be used in beta-cell replacement therapy for diabetes type 1 will be discussed.