Beta-O2 has received a $500,000 grant from JDRF towards a $1 million pilot human study of the company's ßAir bio-artificial pancreas, which is being developed as a potential cure for type 1 diabetes.
The two-year study, which will enroll eight participants at Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden, will evaluate the safety, survival and function of implanted human islets of Langerhans in the system. Islets of Langerhans, also known as pancreatic endocrine cells, control the insulin production in the body. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Three million people have type 1 diabetes in the US alone.
JDRF, a charity dedicated to funding Type 1 diabetes research, says on its website, “The dream for everyone with type 1 diabetes is to permanently restore their body’s lost ability to produce insulin…. JDRF is partnering with Beta-O2 in order to speed up the testing of ßAir, an implantable macro-encapsulation system composed of an immune protection unit (about two and a half inches across) connected to ports through which oxygen can be periodically injected to support the survival of the enclosed beta cells or islets. Ensuring an adequate oxygen supply for encapsulated cells remains one of the biggest challenges for macroencapsulation devices. Balancing the need for immune protection with the need for an adequate oxygen supply is a tall order for most encapsulation device designs. The Beta-O2 approach may represent an ingenious solution.”
Beta-O2 reports that extensive pre-clinical studies demonstrated significantly strong results. ßAir has also experienced early success in the clinic. A 63-year-old patient in Europe with Type 1 diabetes received the implant and was monitored for 10 months. Persistent graft function in the device was demonstrated, with regulated insulin secretion and preservation of islet morphology and function without any immunosuppressive therapy.
Beta-O2 chairman and Aurum Ventures life sciences managing director Dr. Dan Gelvan said, “Imagine if those with type 1 diabetes no longer had to worry about insulin injections or glucose levels. They could eat what they wanted, exercise as they wished and need not measure every step they took. This is the future that Beta-O2 envisions ßAir will help to create.”
He continued, “There are two key factors that make ßAir different from other bio-artificial pancreases in development. ßAir ßAir is also the only system that actively supplies oxygen and in more than sufficient quantities to the islet cells, one of the biggest consumers of oxygen in the body. Once every 24 hours, those with the implant are required to refill the air in the tiny device using a replenishing system which includes a dedicated injector. In addition, ßAir is able to support any type of cell source, which widens treatment possibilities.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 10, 2014
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