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U-T San Diego: In Search of a ‘Virtual Cure’ for Diabetes

Local newspaper U-T San Diego covered the news that the FDA accepted ViaCyte’s application to begin clinical trials to evaluate the VC-01™ product candidate.  The therapy will be tested for safety and efficacy in patients with type 1 diabetes who have minimal to no insulin-producing beta cell function.

VC-01 is the combination of PEC-01™, pancreatic endoderm cells that are designed to further differentiate and mature into the full complement of pancreatic islet cells upon implant, and the Encaptra® drug delivery system, a semi-permeable pouch that lets nutrients in and insulin and other factors out, but is expected to protect the cells from the immune system.

The article also credits the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for investing more than $38 million in the development of VC-01.  CIRM was created in November 2004 by California voters.  In passing the ballot initiative known as Proposition 71, California allocated $3 billion in state bond money to stem cell research and the development of new stem cell-based therapies.

Read more in U-T San Diego

Popular Science: Scientists Outsmart the Immune System to Better Match People with Organs

ViaCyte’s stem cell replacement therapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes was highlighted in a June 2012 Popular Science article on artificial organs.  The ViaCyte device, known as the Encaptra® drug delivery system, holds PEC-01TM cells.  Together, PEC-01 cells in the Encaptra device comprise the VC-01™ product currently being tested in people with type 1 diabetes.  PEC-01 cells are pancreatic progenitor cells derived from human stem cells that are expected to become insulin-producing beta cells and other cells of the pancreatic islet upon implant.  The device is designed to protect the cells from destruction by the immune system and is semi-permeable, allowing insulin and other factors like glucagon and somatostatin to be released into the circulation when blood glucose levels vary.  In this way, VC-01 is expected to mimic the natural processes of the pancreas.

As the article points out, scientists have been working for decades to understand how best to hide cells in permeable capsules and avoid the immune rejection problem.  In 2014, we began clinical trials with the VC-01 product candidate.  VC-01 is the first stem cell-derived islet replacement therapy for the treatment of diabetes to reach clinical testing.

Read more in Popular Science