Type 1 diabetes is the result of an autoimmune attack against the insulin-producing β cells of the endocrine pancreas. Current treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes typically involves a rigorous and invasive regimen of testing blood glucose levels many times a day along with subcutaneous injections of recombinant DNA–derived insulin. Islet transplantation, even with its substantially improved outcome in recent years, is still not indicated for pediatric patients. However, in light of the fact that some regenerative capabilities of the endocrine pancreas have been documented and recent research has shown that human ES cell lines can be derived in vitro, this review discusses whether it is practical or even possible to combine these lines of research to more effectively treat young diabetic patients.
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