The pancreas originates from the definitive endoderm-derived gut epithelium. Much has been learnt about the specification of the gut endoderm into pancreatic progenitors and their progenies, the endocrine (islets of Langerhans) and exocrine cells, by various transcription factors. However, less is known about the extracellular cues that regulate the expression of such transcription factors. Human ES cells have emerged as a potential tool for studying human pancreas development and as a source for islet cells in cell replacement therapy of diabetes. Progress in identification and characterization of niche(s) important for beta cell development and the use of different strategies for differentiating human ES cells into endoderm and pancreatic cell lineages will be discussed.
03 - 07 May 2008
European Society of Endocrinology