'Neo-Islets', a Major Advance Toward a Functional Cure of Type-1 Diabetes

Cover Feature: Neo-Islets created by scientists at SymbioCellTech for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes.

Cover Feature: Neo-Islets created by scientists at SymbioCellTech for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes.

SALT LAKE CITY, June 30, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The cover of the July 2017 issue of the journal STEM CELLS Translation Medicine showcases the latest advance toward a functional cure of insulin-dependent diabetes. Scientists at SymbioCellTech (SCT), a small biotech company in Salt Lake City, developed a technology that combines Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) with culture-expanded pancreatic islet cells to form three-dimensional cellular clusters, termed "Neo-Islets". A single dose of Neo-Islets administered into the abdominal cavity provides durable blood sugar control, i.e., insulin-independence, without the need for potentially toxic anti-rejection drugs or encapsulation devices.

Type-1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease in which the patient's own immune system attacks and destroys the islet cells in the pancreas resulting in the inability of the body to produce insulin. The standard cell therapy for diabetes is islet cell transplantation into the liver; however, this approach has serious drawbacks: (1) it requires the patient to permanently take potentially-toxic immunosuppression drugs, (2) it cannot be scaled up to treat the large number of patients that would benefit from this therapy because up to 5 donor pancreata are required for a single dose, and (3) it is expensive. In order to avoid the need for immunosuppressive agents, researchers have focused on using various devices that encapsulate islets or other insulin-producing cells. These devices, made of specially-formulated materials, are designed to protect against the immune attack yet allow for glucose-sensitive insulin release. Limited success with this technology has been observed in the lab, but most encapsulation devices have failed due to foreign body reactions.

Mindful of these limitations, SCT took a different approach, termed 'natural encapsulation'. By using adult stem cells to block the immune attack on the transplanted islet cells rather than an artificial device, Neo-Islets were created that are pure cellular structures that possess all functions of a normal pancreatic islet cells, while permanently shielding their islet cell component from rejection and immune-mediated destruction.

In the journal article, SCT's scientists describe how they implanted Neo-Islets into spontaneously diabetic, immune-competent NOD mice that had naturally developed auto-immune type-1 diabetes that largely resembles human Type I diabetes. Within a few weeks, all treated mice demonstrated normal blood glucose control without the need for anti-rejection drugs or encapsulation devices. The Neo-Islets produced all physiological hormones that healthy pancreatic islets secrete.

SCT has already developed Neo-Islets for diabetic, insulin-dependent dogs and humans and, as shown in the article, successfully tested these in vitro and in vivo in diabetic NOD-SCID mice. Based on the strength of these preclinical data, SCT was granted approval by the FDA to begin testing in diabetic pet dogs. This study is currently underway. In parallel, SCT is preparing for a phase 1/2 clinical trial in patients with Type I diabetes.

SCT scientists remark that their Neo-Islet technology is a new biologic platform that has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of a number of other autoimmune diseases. Currently, SCT is focused on treating insulin-dependent diabetes due to the magnitude of this global medical problem. The American Diabetes Association estimates that over 20 percent of U.S. medical expenditures can be attributed to the provision of diabetes care, and the World Health Organization estimates over 10,000 people die every day from diabetes and its associated complications.

The cited publication can be found here.

The July issue of the cited Journal can be found here.

About SymbioCellTech:

SymbioCellTech (SCT) is a privately-funded biotech company headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT, focused on the development of stem-cell therapies for the treatment of type-1 and type-2 diabetes, microvascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and auto-immune diseases. SCT is currently engaged in an FDA-sponsored canine pilot study to test the safety, feasibility and preliminary efficacy of its cellular therapeutic to functionally control blood glucose in type-1 diabetes in pet dogs. SCT is also preparing for a phase 1/2 human clinical trial for type-1 diabetes. For more information on SymbioCellTech, please visit www.symbiocelltech.com

 

 

SymbioCellTech recieves FDA approval to conduct pilot studies in pet dogs

Based on the strength of its Investigational New Animal Drug (INAD) application, SymbioCellTech (SCT) received FDA approval to begin a pilot study to test the safety and efficacy of its Neo-Islet therapy in insulin-dependent diabetic pet dogs. The trials are expected to begin at Washington State University in Pullman, WA and at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in San Diego, CA in Q1 of 2017.

 

SCT Submits FDA Application For Dog Trials

SCT submitted an application to the FDA for an Investigational New Animal Drug (INAD), the formal process for requesting FDA approval to begin clinical studies in companion animals. Allen Gardner, a member of the SCT board, remarked, "Over 150 thousand dogs are living with type-1 diabetes in America, and it is estimated that an additional 400 thousand are undiagnosed.  These dogs are cared for by loving family members who diligently perform daily glucose monitoring and insulin injections to keep their pet alive.  As soon as the FDA approves this trial, we will begin working with a few select families to treat their pets with SCTs breakthrough therapy. All of our data show that this treatment will provide their pet with a permanent cure of diabetes and free them from the burden of daily insulin therapy.  We are committed to working with the FDA to begin this trial soon and assure that it is performed to the highest scientific standards."

World Health Organization Publishes Global Report on Diabetes and Calls For Action

The World Health Organization (WHO) released its global report on diabetes and called for action to prevent and treat the disease. Diabetes has been identified as one of four priority noncommunicable diseases targeted for action by world leaders. The WHO research found that 422 million people were suffering from diabetes as of 2014 and a total of 3.7 million deaths in 2012 were a result of diabetes or high blood glucose. The WHO concluded that diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation making it one of the leading causes of death in the world.  For the full report click here.

 

 

JDCA Highlights SymbioCellTech as a company developing a practical cure

The Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance (JDCA) profiled SymbioCellTech in its recent report on small to mid-size corporations - both public and private - that are conducting work that could directly or indirectly support a practical cure. JDCA determines which commercial entities are advancing a potential Practical Cure with screening metrics that evaluate stage of development, funding, and technology.