Human cord blood stem cells and the journey to a cure for type 1 diabetes.
Umbilical cord blood contains several types of stem cells that are of interest to a wide range of disciplines in regenerative medicine. The translational potential to the clinical applications of cord blood stem cells has increased enormously in recent years, mainly because of its advantages including no risk to the donor, no ethical issues, low risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and rapid availability. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease caused by an autoimmune destruction of pancreatic islet β cells. Understanding the nature and function of cord blood stem cells is an exciting challenge that might set the stage for new approaches to the treatment of T1D. Here, we review progress in this field and draw conclusions for the development of future therapeutics in T1D. New insights are provided on a unique type of cord blood-derived multipotent stem cells (CB-SC), including the molecular mechanisms underlying immune modulation by CB-SC, protection of β-cell mass, and promotion of islet β-cell neogenesis.