The pig cell insulin therapy, Diabecell, has been approved for sale in Russia by Living Cell Technologies (LCT), it has been announced. The therapy involves encapsulated porcine insulin producing cells implanted into the abdomen where patients with type 1 diabetes self-regulate the secretion of insulin through the body.
The first approved human xenotransplantatio, and also the first ever registered porcine cell implant therapy, Diabecell has been developed to lower the amount of insulin needed by patients with type 1 diabetes, and may also prevent episodes of hypoglycaemic unawareness, the dangerous condition where diabetics are not aware their blood sugar levels are getting too low.
Ross Macdonald, chief executive of LCT, commented “This is a major step toward global commercialisation of this important advancement in the treatment of diabetes, providing us with the necessary authority to commercialise Diabecell in Russia.” LCT is also currently conducting Phase II trials in New Zealand on patients with unstable diabetes.
Clinical trials of the therapy were carried out in Moscow in 2007, with eight patients with insulin-dependent diabetes receiving implants of Diabecell with no big adverse reaction.
The patients involved had a blood test a year later, which all showed negative for the potential transmission of diseases between pigs and humans, while six exhibited a marked long-term improvement in blood glucose control and needed less insulin injections each day. A couple of the patients managed without any insulin injections at all for an eight-month period.

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