The California stem cell agency next week is slated to award an additional $4 million to ViaCyte, Inc., a San Diego firm that is working with the agency to develop a "virtual" cure for diabetes.
ViaCyte has already received $56 million over the years from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine(CIRM), as the agency is formally known. The latest award will be used to help prepare for a clinical trial for a new treatment for the highest risk diabetes patients.
In response to a query this morning from the California Stem Cell Report, Paul Laikind, president and CEO of ViaCyte, said that the new product, PEC-Direct, will deliver the same biologic component as used in the firm's current product, which is now in a clinical trial.
Laikind said PEC-Direct will allow direct vascularization, which "is expected to allow for a very robust engraftment and cellular performance."
Because the new device will require chronic immune suppression, Laikind said,
"It is being developed to treat patients with type 1 diabetes that are at high risk for acute complications such as severe hypoglycemic events associated with hypoglycemia unawareness syndrome."(The full text of Laikind's remarks and research update can be found here.)
The agency's summary of the closed-door review of the Viacyte proposal said,
"There are over 100,000 people in the U.S. with type 1 diabetes so severe that they are at constant risk of hospitalization and/or death. Within months after administration, this product could naturally restore those patients’ blood sugar to normal healthy levels and save their lives."
The largest award, $10 million, will go to Humacyte, Inc., of North Carolina, to produce an artificial vein for use in hemodialysis as reported yesterday on the California Stem Cell Report. More details of all the applications and review summaries can be found on the meeting agenda.
The session will be audiocast and carried on the Internet on a listen-only basis. Interested parties can participate in the meeting from telephonic locations throughout the state.
The main site for the meeting will be at the Sanford consortium in San Diego. Other locations include the agency's headquarters in Oakland and sites in Davis, South San Francisco(2), Napa, Los Gatos, Sacramento, Irvine, San Francisco and Los Angeles. For specific addresses and instructions for online access, see the agenda.