Here is a list of 15 companies exploring stem cell for diabetes treatment.
Stem Cell for Diabetes Treatment from 15 Companies
Diabetic Patients in the U.S.
With an aging population, surging rates of obesity, and the incidence of diabetes on the rise, these 15 companies are exploring the potential of stem cell for diabetes treatment. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the U.S. population has diabetes, including an estimated 8.1 million who are undiagnosed. According to the American Diabetes Association, the 2012 cost of this disease in the U.S. was “$245 billion per annum or approximately $500,000 every minute.”
The Success of Islet Cell Implantation in a Diabetic Patient
Fortunately, companies and institutions worldwide are making progress with stem cell for diabetes treatment. In a historic achievement, the Diabetes Research Institute a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine announced the first diabetic patient in its clinical trial had stopped insulin therapy after the implantation of islet cells within a biological scaffold. Other innovative approaches to the treatment of diabetes are explored below.
Companies Exploring Stem Cell Treatment for Diabetes
Given the growing promise of regenerative medicine, the following companies are exploring stem cell for diabetes therapy.
1. Seraxis | Cell Replacement Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes
Seraxis Inc. is a privately owned biotechnology company with GMP labs located in Germantown, Maryland. Seraxis is developing a cell replacement therapy for insulin-dependent diabetes, called SR-01. Seraxis developed a proprietary iPSC line that is specifically tailored to produce pure, fully mature lab-grown islets that respond to glucose and secrete insulin like a native islet.
In addition, Seraxis has developed SeraGraft, a device for the encapsulation of the cells and their implant. The biocompatible retrievable macro- device has been shown to be safe and to prevent the destruction of the insulin-producing cells by the host immune system.
2. Unicyte AG | Diabetes Cell Therapy
Unicyte has established a collaboration with Prof. Giovanni Camussi from Molecular Biotechnology Center (MBC) at the University of Turin. Through this alliance, Unicyte has developed three proprietary technology platforms:
- human liver stem cells (HLSCs)
- HLSC-derived functional pancreatic islets
- nano-extracellular vesicles
As stated by Unicyte, “Prof Giovanni Camussi recently discovered that Human Liver Stem Cells (HLSCs) are able to undergo differentiation into insulin-secreting cells. Moreover, HLSCs have been shown to aggregate and form three dimensional spherical structures resembling natural islets. HLSC-Islets secrete insulin and are positive for various hormones including glucagon, ghrelin, and somatostatin. When injected into animal models of Type 1 diabetes, these islet-like structures are fully functional and restore glycemic control.”
3. ViaCyte | Insulin for Diabetes
In February 2016, San Diego-based ViaCyte acquired an exclusive license to “BetaLogics intellectual property in the field of metabolic disease, including diabetes, and the transfer of related assets to ViaCyte.” The news positioned ViaCyte as a leader in stem cell therapeutics for the treatment of Types 1 and 2 diabetes.
4. Sernova | Stem Cell for Diabetes Treatment
In September 2015, Sernova Corporation secured exclusive worldwide rights to patent-pending technologies developed by researchers at the University Health Network (UHN) in Canada, with the license giving them the capacity to turn stem cells into glucose-responsive therapeutic cells for use in the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes.
5. Betalin Therapeutics | Insulin Production
Betalin Therapeutics, Ltd., based in Ramat Gan, Israel, is led by Mr. Jacob Ben-Arie (CEO). The company is developing the engineered micro pancreas (EMP), a breakthrough technology that will enable it to implant pancreatic stem cells, which include insulin-producing cells, to restore the body’s intrinsic insulin generation capabilities. This miniature pancreas is implanted in the patient’s body under the skin using a local anesthesia with a minimal risk to the patient and costs of the procedure.
6. AltuCell | Stem Cell Therapy for Diabetes Type 2
A small but powerful company working in this area is AltuCell, a company whose mission is to find a cure for insulin-dependent diabetes. Led by CEO Gary Harlem, AltuCell is a private pharmaceutical company with a world-renowned medical team spread across the U.S. and Europe. In a recent peer-review article published in the journal Xenotransplantation on September 27, 2016, AltuCell’s medical lead, Dr. Giovanni Luca, announced:
7. NextCell Pharma AB | Stem Cell Therapy for Diabetes Type 1
In July 2017, Stockholm-based NextCell Pharma submitted an application to the Medical Products Agency for a clinical trial in autoimmune diabetes with its stem cell product ProTrans™. Protrans™ is composed of stem cells derived from the umbilical cord tissue and intended for use in the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
8. Osiris Therapeutics | Type 1 Diabetes Control
Osiris Therapeutics is exploring the use of its Prochymal cell therapy for multiple indications, including the treatment of diabetes. In 2014, Osiris completed a Phase II Type 1 diabetes clinical trial that evaluated the efficacy and safety of Prochymal. Titled “PROCHYMAL® (Human Adult Stem Cells) for the Treatment of Recently Diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM),” the clinical trial was completed in December 2014. Prochymal is an adult human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) product that may delay the progression of Type 1 diabetes by preserving beta cell function, and therefore, insulin production.
9. Mesoblast | Type 2 Diabetes Treatment
Mesoblast Limited is exploring the use of its human mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPC) product for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. It first demonstrated the efficacy of its product in preclinical trials when an injection of MPCs into diabetic mice produced an increase in blood insulin levels and a reduction in blood glucose levels.
10. Evotec and Sanofi | Stem Cell for Diabetes
In August 2015, Evotec and Sanofi entered into a strategic alliance to develop a beta cell replacement therapy for diabetes. The partnership is focused on using human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPS cells) to create functional human beta cells. According to the companies, “The agreement between Evotec and Sanofi triggers an upfront payment of € 3 m, potential pre-clinical, clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones which could total over € 300 m as well as significant royalties and research payments.”
11. Orgenesis | Insulin-Producing Cells
Orgenesis Ltd. is developing a proprietary and patented platform technology called “transdifferentiation” in which an adult cell is converted into another type of cell. Using this technology, the company is producing autologous insulin-producing (“AIP”) cells that may have the capacity to turn the liver cells of diabetic patients into “fully functional and physiologically glucose-responsive insulin-producing cell, designed to provide long-term insulin independence.”
12. Semma Therapeutics | Type 1 Diabetes Therapy
13. Novo Nordisk | Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes
In May 2018, Novo Nordisk announced an increased focus on stem cell-based therapies and expansion of its focus on Type 1 diabetes. The company has an exclusive collaboration with the University of California San Francisco and has reached the first milestone in the development of its human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines. Additionally, Novo is collaborating with Cornell University to address impediments to the use of stem cells in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes, by creating an encapsulation device to prevent the recognition of beta cells by the host’s immune system.
14. Beta-O2 | Artificial Pancreas for Diabetes
Beta-O2 is creating the ßAir Bio-artificial Pancreas to cure Type 1 diabetes (TID). Developed by Beta-O2, ßAir provides an environment that allows insulin-producing beta cells to survive within the patient’s body and supply insulin. Because ßAir protects the islet cells from the body’s immune system without the need for immunosuppressive drugs, it can utilize cells from a variety of sources, including human donors, animals (pigs), and/or stem cell derivatives.
15. Eli Lilly and Sigilon | Stem Cell for Diabetes
In April 2018, Eli Lilly and Company and Sigilon Therapeutics announced a partnership to co-develop encapsulated cell therapies for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. Under the partnership, Sigilon will create proprietary products using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) that are differentiated into insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells and encapsulated using Afibromer technology from Sigilon. The goal of this cell therapy approach is to restore insulin production over sustained periods without the need to trigger an immune reaction.
Autoimmunity Remains a Challenge for Treating Type I Diabetes
Despite the potential for these 15 companies to develop stem cell therapies for diabetes, the challenge of autoimmunity for Type I diabetes treatment is still present. Although there are transplants for new beta cells, the patient’s immune system will eventually attack these cells. Because of this, scientists should consider treatments that can help protect these new beta cells from the immune system’s attacks, or therapies that prevent the immune system from targeting the new beta cells.
With these 15 companies discovering treatments with stem cell for diabetes, the future of diabetic patients to slow down symptoms is promising. Stem cells are naturally occurring cells in the body that are responsible for the most human body healing, repairing, and restoring. This is the primary reason why researchers continue to study human stem cells to better understand its maximum therapeutic potential for diabetes despite the challenge.
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