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New cure may replace insulin shots for diabetics

Friday, May 20, 2016,11:33 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

London | A London-based not-for-profit organisation has teamed up with the University of Aberdeen in Scotland to devise a new therapy for Type 1 diabetes, which could replace the need for insulin shots.

Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT) told the World Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine congress in London on Wednesday that their new technology could dramatically increase the number of patients who can receive transplants of insulin-producing islets.

The positive pre-clinical results have led to the team setting up a start-up called Islexa, which will manufacture lab-grown islets, the organoids responsible for insulin production, by reprogramming donated pancreatic tissue.

The technology essentially takes the exocrine tissue from donated pancreas, once the islets have been removed from it… reprograms it and forward differentiates it from a kind of mesenchymal stem cell state. That makes functional islets, CGT CEO and Islexa director Keith Thompson told ‘FierceBiotech’.

If clinical trials are successful, the technology means tens of thousands more people around the world could live without the need for frequent insulin injections, although it will take a few years until the treatment is available.

Prof Kevin Docherty, from Aberdeen University, said: Donated islets are already effectively treating severe cases of type 1 diabetes. Having a hugely expanded supply of lab-grown islets will enable us to significantly extend this established clinical treatment.

Around the world, 21 million people have Type 1 diabetes, a condition that occurs when the pancreas does not produce any insulin.

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