ViaCyte tries again with potential diabetes cure
After receiving an additional $20 million funding, San Diego’s ViaCyte is testing a new version of its stem cell-based diabetes therapy.
With the funding from California’s stem cell agency, or CIRM, ViaCyte plans to get strong evidence within about 18 months to determine whether its implant can restore an internally generated supply of insulin to diabetics. That would produce what ViaCyte calls a functional cure for the disease.
The first version of the implant showed mixed results in early human testing, said Paul Laikind, president and chief executive. The second version is designed to better support the insulin-generating cells that substitute for those destroyed in type 1 diabetes.
The grant was awarded Sept. 28, bringing ViaCyte’s total from CIRM to more than $51 million. Previous grants were for research and development. The new grant is exclusively for clinical testing.
Earlier this month, Laikind discussed plans for privately held ViaCyte at the Cell & Gene Meeting on the Mesa in La Jolla.
ViaCyte has to solve two major problems, Laikind said. One is to produce cells that generate insulin and survive in the body for an extended time. The second is to keep the body’s immune system from destroying the cells, derived from human embryonic stem cells.
The first version, called PEC-Encap, addressed the problem by shielding the cells inside a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane keeps immune cells out, but allowing nutrients to flow in and insulin to flow out.
In some of those tested, the device produced the hoped-for results. When the implants were removed for ex Continue reading