ViaCyte, a company that CIRM has supported for many years, has announced international expansion of a clinical trial to test their therapeutic PEC-Direct product in patients with Type I Diabetes.
The first European patient in Brussels was implanted with the PEC-Direct product candidate that, in animal models, is able to form functional beta cells. Patients with Type I Diabetes are unable to control blood glucose levels because their immune system attacks insulin-producing beta cells, which are responsible for regulating blood sugar.
The hope is that PEC-Direct would eliminate the need for patients to take daily doses of insulin, the current treatment standard to prevent the side effects of high blood glucose levels, such as heart disease, kidney damage and nerve damage.
The PEC-Direct product is implanted under the skin. The progenitor cells inside it are designed to mature in to human pancreatic islet cells, including glucose-responsive insulin-secreting beta cells, following implant. These are the cells destroyed by Type 1 Diabetes
In this first phase of the clinical trial, patients are administered a subtherapeutic dose of the drug to ensure that that the implants are able to generate beta cells in the body. The next part of the trial will determine whether or not the formed beta cells are able to produce appropriate levels of insulin and modulate blood glucose levels. A sister trial is currently underway in North America as well. This work is a collaboration between ViaCyte and The Center for Beta Cell Therapy in Diabetes.
Separately, ViaCyte has also made important headway to make stem cells more effective in different types of diseases by programming them to evade the immune system. This progress has been cited by the Global Human Embryonic Stem Cells Market report as a key development in growing the overall global stem cell market.
CIRM is proud to be a supporter of companies such as ViaCyte that are conducting groundbreaking research to make stem cell therapy an effective and realistic treatment option for many different diseases.