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Embryonic Stem Cells as a Potential Cure for Diabetes

Embryonic Stem Cells as a Potential Cure for Diabetes,10.1007/978-1-60761-366-4_10,Michael A. Bukys,Jan Jensen

Embryonic Stem Cells as a Potential Cure for Diabetes  
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Beta-cell replacement is an effective treatment for type 1 diabetes, but its applicability is limited by the lack of sufficient donor tissue, raising the need for alternative tissue sources. Deriving β cells from stem cell precursors offers an unlimited renewable source of tissue for transplantation and in recent years has become the focus of research in many laboratories. The unique state of embryonic stem (ES) cells is characterized by continuous proliferation through a cell cycle consisting of an abbreviated G1 phase. Although this cell cycle exposes ES cells to potential mutations, it also allows continuous culture of undifferentiated cells. Current protocols directing the differentiation of ES cells mimic the normal embryonic development of β cells through definitive endoderm, foregut endoderm, pancreatic precursors, and endocrine progenitor cells. At present all of these steps are suboptimal, since only some of the cells follow this pathway to the intended product. Moral concerns surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells has led to development of alternative sources of pluripotent cells. Current advances in cellular reprogramming are discussed.
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