Recent advances in pancreas organogenesis have greatly improved the understanding of cell lineage from inner cell mass to fully differentiated β-cells. Based upon such knowledge, insulin-producing cells similar to β-cells to a certain extent have been generated from various cell sources including embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, although fully differentiated cells comparable to β-cells are not yet available. The bioartificial pancreas is a therapeutic approach to enable allo- and xenotransplantation of islets without immune suppression. Among several types of bioartificial pancreases (BAPs), micro-encapsulated porcine islets are already in use in clinical trials and may, perhaps, replace islet transplantation in the near future. Some types of bioartificial pancreas such as macro-encapsulation are also useful for keeping transplanted cells enclosed in case retrieval is necessary. Therefore, early clinical applications of artificially generated β-like cells, especially those from ESCs or iPS cells, will be considered in combination with retrievable BAPs.
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