Patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have an insufficiency in their functional β cell mass. To advance diabetes treatment and to work toward a cure, a better understanding of how to protect the pancreatic β cells against autoimmune or metabolic assaults (e.g., obesity, gestation) will be required. Over the past decades, β cell protection has been extensively investigated in rodents both in vivo and in vitro using isolated islets or rodent β cell lines. Transferring these rodent data to humans has long been challenging, at least partly for technical reasons: primary human islet preparations were scarce and functional human β cell lines were lacking. In 2011, we described a robust protocol of targeted oncogenesis in human fetal pancreas and produced the first functional human β cell line, and in subsequent years additional lines with specific traits. These cell lines are currently used by more than 150 academic and industrial laboratories worldwide. In this Review, we first explain how we developed the human β cell lines and why we think we succeeded where others, despite major efforts, did not. Next, we discuss the use of such functional human β cell lines and share some perspectives on their use to advance diabetes research.
Raphael Scharfmann, Willem Staels, Olivier Albagli
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.