Diabetes mellitus, a disease with abnormally high level of blood glucose, can cause a wide range of chronic complications that affect almost every parts of the body. The major goal of diabetes treatments is to control elevated blood glucose without causing abnormally low levels of blood glucose. Despite islet transplantation provided endogenous insulin secretion in individuals with diabetes, the scarcity of cadaveric donors for pancreatic β-cell still remains a major obstacle. In this regard, the needs for an unlimited supply for cell replacement strategy have led to explore the way of generating insulin-producing cells to use in the disease treatment. Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) offer a source to produce the desired kind of cell. Currently, several researchers achieved insulin-producing cells from hESCs using a multistep differentiation protocols, growth factors, and/or chemical compounds. In this review, we summarized the hESCs derivation, culture methods, and characteristics of hESCs. We also emphasized on the current methods for direct differentiation of hESCs into embryoid bodies (EBs) and toward insulin-producing cells, characterization of these insulin-producing cells, and the limitation of hESCs. Since the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which have similar properties to hESCs but less ethical issues than hESCs, can be created directly from somatic cells that hold great promise as the therapeutic source for developing cell-based therapy. Herein, the methods to produce iPSC-derived insulin-producing cells are also discussed. Moreover, the encapsulation technology which is a powerful tool for accelerate hESCs and iPSCs applications in medicine which provide a new avenue for diabetes treatment in the future is also included in this review. Understanding the basic knowledge of hESCs and iPSCs, their differentiation capability toward insulin-producing cells will stimulate more therapeutic value of hESCs and iPSCs for diabetic treatments, drug screening, and regenerative medicine.
Part of the book: Pluripotent Stem Cells