Type 1 diabetes mellitus is a chronic autoimmune disease that results from the destruction of beta (β) cells in the pancreatic islets, leading to loss of insulin production and resultant hyperglycemia. Recent developments in stem cell biology have generated much excitement for β-cell replacement strategies; β cells are one of many cell types in the complex islet environment and pancreas. In this Opinion, we discuss recent successful attempts to generate β cells and how this can be coupled with bioprinting technologies in order to fabricate pancreas tissues, which holds great potential for type 1 diabetes. Possibilities of integrating vascularization and encapsulation in bioprinted tissues are expounded, and future prospects, such as pancreas-on-a-chip, are also presented. Improving the transformation of stem cells to functional β cells and other pancreatic cells will speed up the development of cell-based bioprinting-enabled therapies for type 1 diabetes. Bioprinting for tissue and organ fabrication has the advantages of precise component deposition, controllable construct size and anatomical geometry, biomimetic cellular organization and interactions, integration of vasculature or vascular network, and high-throughput capability. Combining bioprinting with encapsulation of pancreatic tissues may be necessary for protection of constructs from the immune system. Integration of encapsulated vascularized pancreatic islets into a scale-up perfusable pancreatic organ will be promising for type 1 diabetes.
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