SAN DIEGO -- Viacyte President Paul Laikind is optimistic about a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
"We're tremendously excited about the potential of this," he said from inside a lab at Viacyte's Torrey Pines headquarters Thursday.
"This" is VC-01, an encaptor drug delivery device. It's a thin, flexible implant that could hold the cure to Type-1 Diabetes.
Viacyte has been working for almost a decade to create it. They use stem cells to create pancreatic progenitor cells. Those are put in the device and then implanted under the skin. Once in the body, the device protects them from the immune system, which would otherwise attack them as a foreign substance.
The cells grow and eventually begin to produce their own insulin.
Results from preliminary human testing at University of California San Diego and at the University of Alberta were made public Thursday. They look promising.
"We still have work to do," Laikind says. "We’re not there yet, but it says we’re on the right track, in the right direction to proving this cure."
The company also got a boost Thursday on the business side. They acquired all the patents and research from BetaLogics, a company that's also been trying to find a cure.
"It’s been the only other company out there that’s been working out in this field as long as we have,” Laikind said. “So putting those two power houses together, we think, gives us an ever better chance of bringing a really transformative therapy to patients."
If the drug is successful, people with Type-1 diabetes wouldn't need insulin shots anymore, making the disease something that doesn't consume their lives.
"What we’re hoping this product will do is turn this from a chronic disease into a disease patients no longer have to think about."