Review Article | Published:

Pancreas regeneration

Naturevolume 557pages351358 (2018) | Download Citation


The pancreas is made from two distinct components: the exocrine pancreas, a reservoir of digestive enzymes, and the endocrine islets, the source of the vital metabolic hormone insulin. Human islets possess limited regenerative ability; loss of islet β-cells in diseases such as type 1 diabetes requires therapeutic intervention. The leading strategy for restoration of β-cell mass is through the generation and transplantation of new β-cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells. Other approaches include stimulating endogenous β-cell proliferation, reprogramming non-β-cells to β-like cells, and harvesting islets from genetically engineered animals. Together these approaches form a rich pipeline of therapeutic development for pancreatic regeneration.

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We apologize that we were unable to cite many studies owing to space limitations. We thank past and present members of our laboratories and colleagues for their insights and contributions. Q.Z. and D.A.M. receive support from National Institute of Health (NIH) and Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), and D.A.M. from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

Author information


  1. Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Qiao Zhou
    •  & Douglas A. Melton
  2. Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Qiao Zhou
    •  & Douglas A. Melton
  3. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD, USA

    • Douglas A. Melton


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Q.Z. and D.A.M. wrote and edited the manuscript. Q.Z. prepared the figures.

Competing interests

D.A.M. is a founder of Semma Therapeutics Inc. Q.Z. declares no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Qiao Zhou or Douglas A. Melton.

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