Diabetes mellitus type 1 is characterized by insulin deficiency due to autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic islets. Usually presenting in childhood, these patients usually rely on insulin therapy. It is possible to treat diabetes mellitus type 1 with islet transplantation. Transplanted islet tissue more closely mimics the physiology of the lost islets, and patients no longer require multiple daily insulin injections. Transplantation, however, is limited by the supply and viability of islets. Islets are limited not only by the availability of donors, but by the tissue viability after procurement. In fact, the Edmonton protocol used for islet transplantation requires two set of donors for one recipient.
Stem cells offer a way to improve the supply of pancreatic islets. This review focuses on ways various stem cells can be used to increase available β cells and improve the viability of islet β cell after procuremen. Stem cells could be differentiated in-vitro into cells capable of glucose stimulated insulin secretion and subsequently transplanted.