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Bone marrow- and cord blood-derived stem cell transplantation for diabetes

In the last years, the widely consolidated clinical experience in the field of hematology has encouraged the use of bone marrow (BM)- and cord blood (CB)-derived stem cells in nonhaematological disease. In the field of diabetes, a huge amount of clinical trials for the cure of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, involving BM-derived HSC and both BM- and CB-derived MSC got underway, thanks also to the availability of simple protocols for collection, culture and storage of these stem cells. Many groups have investigated their potential role in tolerance induction and/or restoration, in pancreatic tissue remodelling as “feeder” cells and in direct differentiation into insulin-producing cells, with the shared final goal to preserve β cell function. This review recapitulates the historical use of BM- and CB-derived stem cells in diabetes , alone or in combination with islet transplantation, and focuses on the most relevant information on preclinical experimental data and provides an update on the most recent clinical trials.