This is an interview with Gary Harlem, CEO of Altucell, a company exploring novel cell therapy approaches to treating Type I diabetes. In addition to diabetes, the company’s core encapsulation technology is applicable to a wide range of autoimmune and chronic degenerative disorders.
While Altucell is an American company, it has secured intellectual property rights on encapsulation patents from a team of researchers at the University of Perugia, Italy, led by Dr. Riccardo Calafiore, M.D.
Interview with Gary Harlem, CEO of Altucell
Cade Hildreth: What is your background and how did you become interested in Type 1 diabetes?
Gary Harlem: My background is in diet and nutrition, having spent 30+ years in the dietary supplement and health sector industry. I became interested in diabetes not by choice, but when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 10. He is now 21 years old.
Cade Hildreth: How did you conceive the concept for ALTuCELL and what year was it founded?
Gary Harlem: After my son was diagnosed, I wiped away the tears and shock and made a conviction to find the cure. After global travels investigating various technologies, I subsequently found a medical team from Italy that seemed to be “light years” ahead of the curve in terms of a novel approach to curing Type1 Diabetes, as demonstrated in JEM ARTICLE 2009 reversal of Type 1 Diabetes. Numerous other peer review studies also confirm these remarkable outcomes.
I gravitated to this team from Italy, and this relationship led to the formation of Altucell Inc. in July 2010.
Cade Hildreth: What is the technology on which Altucell is based and how did you secure rights to it?
Gary Harlem: The best way to describe Altucell would be a global cell and molecular therapy company for auto immune, chronic and degenerative disorders. I was very fortunate to be in the right place and time to be able to secure outright the global rights to the intellectual property (IP) technology and to be able to scale up the patents. Altucell’s IP position is a strong asset.
Cade Hildreth: What is micro-encapsulation and what benefits does it provide?
Gary Harlem: Micro-encapsulation is a cell therapy approach that utilizes natural materials made from polymers of alginate (seaweed compounds). The benefits of our encapsulation technology is that it has been pioneered and perfected by our chief scientist, Dr Riccardo Calafiore. Dating back to the 1980’s, micro-encapsulation has been used to protect all types of naked cells from being attacked by the immune system, as occurs within Type 1 Diabetes.
Please click here to see our encapsulation “Features and Benefits” on the purity and success that has been demonstrated with our encapsulation technology, which meets the FDA threshold for use in human transplant.
Cade Hildreth: What is the difference between ALTSULIN and ALTUSTEM?
Gary Harlem: Altsulin is our patented combination cocktail consisting of our micro-encapsulated Sertoli cells.
In contrast, Altustem is our patented cord blood myofibroblast human stem cell technology.
Cade Hildreth: What are the different applications for ALTSULIN vs. ALTUSTEM?
Gary Harlem: Altsulin was discovered in our labs to demonstrate complete reversal in Type 1 Diabetes in our animal studies based on xeno (different species) technology. Altustem, discovered in house, is based on human cells that demonstrate the ability to repair and regenerate without the need to match RNA/DNA blood types safely. However both of these technologies are extremely effective.
Cade Hildreth: What proof-of-concept studies have been completed?
Gary Harlem: In terms of proof-of-concept studies, there have been many studies completed in rodents, dogs, monkeys and even a small -scale human study that included 5-year follow-up.
Cade Hildreth: What is the potential market for your technology?
Gary Harlem: Statistics indicate there are presently 400 million people globally that are affected by some form of diabetes. The market potential for our cell technology is huge. At the moment there are frequent mergers and acquisitions occurring across the cell technology sector, and there is strong interest in encapsulation technology. Within the diabetes space, large non-profit organizations are also putting a lot of resources into this type of approach.
Cade Hildreth: What are your 3-5 year goals for the ALTuCELL?
Gary Harlem: We are now positioned to demonstrate human proof-of-principle studies with our Altsulin technology. Therefore, we are seeking investment opportunity to execute this highly sought after outcome and continue to develop our micro-encapsulation technology as a revolutionary way to address and treat a wide variety of diseases, including Type I Diabetes and other autoimmune and chronic degenerative disorders.
Cade Hildreth: What types of partnerships, collaborations, or investments interest you?
Gary Harlem: Altucell is open to all types of business opportunities and potential strategic synergies. The market for diabetic treatments is huge, and our technology could represent a substantial investment opportunity for the right individual, investor group, or pharmaceutical or biotechnology company.