This review aims to enlighten the readers regarding the past, present and future of stem cells in the treatment of Diabetes. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, affecting more than 415 million people worldwide. It is estimated that one in ten adults will have diabetes by 2030. Diabetes is mainly due to reduction in β-cell mass which are responsible for insulin production. Exogenous administration of insulin is having good impact on restoring glucose homeostasis, but it does not entirely control the minute-to-minute fluctuations in systemic blood glucose. Recently cellular-based therapies have been established for exogenous insulin administration by modern pump technology. One of the most interesting therapies involves substitution of insulin producing islet cells by transplantation. But lack of donor material and lifelong immunosuppression made the technique unfeasible. These restrictions have led to exploration of other sources of β-cells, one of the prospects being the stem cells. Several types of stem cells have been used to make pancreatic β-cells, including human embryonic stem cells / induced pluripotent stem cells, pancreatic stem / progenitor cells, and non-pancreatic stem cells. There is also evidence of adult β-cells regeneration through β-cell replication and cellular reprogramming. Functional restoration of existing β-cells, transplantation of stem cells or stem cell-derived β-like cells might provide new opportunities for treatment. In conclusion it can be said that the research is still wide open to arrive at the efficient reprogramming of various types of stem cells to destine them towards functional β-cells.
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