Wednesday, October 29, 2014

$55 Million California Investment: First Patient Receives Viacyte Diabetes Device

Viacyte's diabetes device
San Diego U-T photo
The California stem cell agency and Viacyte, Inc., today marked a diabetic and stem cell first.

The first of about 40 patients has received the San Diego firm’s human embryonic stem cell device as part of a clinical trial testing what could be a virtual cure for type 1 diabetes.

The stem cell agency, which has invested $55 million in Viacyte, carried the news on its blog, The Stem Cellar. Kevin McCormack, a spokesman for the agency, wrote,
Viacyte graphic
“The beauty of the VC-01 is that while it lets cells secrete insulin out, it prevents the body’s own immune system from getting in and attacking the device. The device is about the length and thickness of a credit card but only half as wide which makes it easy to implant under the skin.”
The $55 million is believed to the be largest amount that the state has invested in a single company.  

Paul Laikind, president of Viacyte, said in a press release
“To our knowledge, this is the first time that an embryonic stem cell-derived cell replacement therapy for diabetes has been studied in human subjects, and it represents the culmination of a decade of effort by the ViaCyte team, our collaborators, and our supporters at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (the stem cell agency)  and at JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).”  
The trial is being led by Robert Henry at the UC San Diego Health System with the support of the UC San Diego Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center.

The initial testing involves the safety of the device. It could take years before it might reach the marketplace. 

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