It’s not often you get excited talking about company mergers, but a deal announced today is something worth getting excited about, particularly if you have type 1 diabetes (T1D).
Today Vertex announced it was buying ViaCyte for $320 million in cash. Why is that important? Because both companies are working on developing stem cell therapies for people with type 1 diabetes, so combining the two may help speed up that work.
Now, in the interests of full disclosure the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has been supporting ViaCyte’s work for some years now, investing in nine different research programs, including two clinical trials with the company.
ViaCyte has been developing an implantable device which contains pancreatic endoderm cells that mature over a few months and turn into insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells, the kind destroyed by T1D.
Vertex is taking a slightly different approach, manufacturing synthetic islet cells which are then injected into the patient.
In a news release both companies said the deal – which is slated to be completed later this year – would help speed up that work.:
“VX-880 has successfully demonstrated clinical proof of concept in T1D, and the acquisition of ViaCyte will accelerate our goal of transforming, if not curing T1D by expanding our capabilities and bringing additional tools, technologies and assets to our current stem cell-based programs,” said Reshma Kewalramani, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and President of Vertex.
“ViaCyte’s commitment to finding a functional cure for T1D is shared by Vertex, and this acquisition will allow Vertex to deploy ViaCyte’s tools, technologies and assets toward the development of Vertex’s multiple cell replacement therapy approaches designed to reduce the burden of millions of people living with T1D worldwide,” said Michael Yang, President and Chief Executive Officer of ViaCyte.
Dr. Maria Millan, CIRM’s President and CEO, says it’s always gratifying to see a project we have supported continue to progress.
“We are delighted at the news that Vertex and ViaCyte are combining their experience, expertise and resources in working to develop a stem cell therapy for type 1 diabetes. At CIRM we pride ourselves on helping de-risk projects, giving promising research the support it needs to attract outside investment. We have been big supporters of ViaCyte’s work over many years. That support has been vital in helping lead to this deal. We believe this is good news for both companies and hope it will ultimately be even better news for everyone with type 1 diabetes.”