Islet cell implant for diabetes receives USD16 million grant

Mon, 22 Sep 2014
ViaCyte, the makers of a promising new treatment for type 1 diabetes have received a grant for $16.6 million to put towards funding human clinical trials.

The treatment called, VC-01, involves having islet stem cells implanted into the body via a special device, called the Encaptra drug delivery system which protects the islet cells from the autoimmune attack of type 1 diabetes. The encapsulated islet cells are able to produce and release a number of important endocrine hormones including insulin, glucagon and amylin.

Obtaining sufficient funding for human clinical trials is one of the major hurdles faced by new diabetes treatments. The grant, provided by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, as part of their Accelerated Development Pathway, enables ViaCyte to swiftly proceed with trials to demonstrate safety and effectiveness in humans.

The human trials will involve around 40 participants with type 1 diabetes that have minimal to no ability to produce insulin of their own.

In addition to the grant provided by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), ViaCyte have also received support from the charity JDRF from an early stage of development.

Dr Paul Laikind, ViaCyte's CEO, acknowledged the support offered by the grant: "Once again we are expressing our gratitude to CIRM and the citizens of California for supporting the work we are doing to develop a new approach for the treatment of type 1 diabetes and concurrently demonstrate the potential of stem cell-derived therapy."
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