Stem Cells

Stem cells are cells that can multiply and become more specialized cells. Stem cells can be obtained from many areas including bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. There are two types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells; and adult stem cells.

Adult stem cells can replenish tissues and act as a repair system for the body. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can become specialized to differentiate into: endoderm (interior stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs); mesoderm (muscle, bone, blood, urogenital); or ectoderm (epidermal tissues and nervous system).

For a person with diabetes, stem cells can differentiate into islet cells. These cells are tasked with the job of making insulin- an important hormone central in regulating fat and carbohydrate metabolism. If there is inadequate insulin produced, cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue cannot take in glucose (sugar) from the blood.


Types of Stem Cells

Expansion and transdifferentiation of pancreatic duct cells:

Human pancreatic duct cells have been grown successfully in vitro and can be made to differentiate, but its ability to restore blood glucose in vitro is still unproven.  A recent study indicated that these in vitro generated islet cells were capable of lowering blood glucose to near normal in non-obese diabetic mice. Several laboratories continue to advance research on using these adult donor ductal cells. 

The use of fetal pancreatic stem cells and B cell precursor:

The advances in understanding fetal endocrine development provide an important guide to further attempts to produce islet cells in vitro.  Taken from embryonic pancreas from an aborted fetus or by using pancreatic duct cells, these cells can be grown and differentiated to create endocrine precursor cells that make insulin.  This stem cell research has the potential to provide an unlimited number of B cells for transplantation. 

Embryonic stem cells:

When a fertilized human egg divides and gives rise to an embryo, it contains a cluster of cells.  These embryonic cells are derived from this cluster.  These cells are pluripotent, with the ability to develop into specialized cells.  Research has shown that insulin producing cells from mouse embryonic stem cells.  More research is needed to develop this stem cell advancement. 

Source: Serup, P, Madsen, O, & Mandrup-Poulsen, T. (2001). Islet and stem cell transplantation for treating diabetes. British Medical, 322,



Stem Cell Legislation by State

The Washington Post:  Stem Cell Legislation in the U.S. by State


Stem Cell Federal Legislation

111th Congress, House Bills

111th Congress, Senate Bills

 Source:  NIH Stem Cell Information-  Congressional Legislation