Latin America is a fast-growing region that currently faces unique challenges in the treatment of all forms of diabetes mellitus. The burden of this disease will be even greater in the coming years due, in part, to the large proportion of young adults living in urban areas and engaging in unhealthy lifestyles. Unfortunately, the national health systems in Latin-American countries are unprepared and urgently need to reorganize their health care services to achieve diabetic therapeutic goals. Stem cell research is attracting increasing attention as a promising and fast-growing field in Latin America. As future healthcare systems will include the development of regenerative medicine through stem cell research, Latin America is urged to issue a call-to-action on stem cell research. Increased efforts are required in studies focused on stem cells for the treatment of diabetes. In this review, we aim to inform physicians, researchers, patients and funding sources about the advances in stem cell research for possible future applications in diabetes mellitus. Emerging studies are demonstrating the potential of stem cells for β cell differentiation and pancreatic regeneration. The major economic burden implicated in patients with diabetes complications suggests that stem cell research may relieve diabetic complications. Closer attention should be paid to stem cell research in the future as an alternative treatment for diabetes mellitus.
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