California Stem Cell Report
OCTOBER 03, 2019
California's $72 Million Diabetes Wager: ViaCyte Announces Major "Firsts" for Its Stem Cell Therapy

Vox Pop video/Viacyte https://youtu.be/En0zNq2wUz4

One of California's bigger stem cell bets -- $72 million -- turned up this morning with a strong positive report that included a couple of "firsts" in its search for a virtual cure for diabetes.

The announcement came from ViaCyte, Inc., of San Diego. The California stem cell agency has pumped $72 million into the company, making the firm the top for-profit recipient of state stem cell largess.

The news comes as the agency, known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), is running out of funds and hoping that voters will give it $5 billion more. A major research score would be a big plus for that ballot initiative effort.

The agency's president, Maria Millan, described the ViaCyte announcement as important and encouraging.

ViaCyte is developing a tiny device that is implanted in a person's body and that generates insulin as needed. It is aimed primarily at type one diabetes, which afflicts more than one million Americans

ViaCyte issued a news release on the developments at major, national stem cell conference in Carlsbad, Ca. The headline on the release said,
"First demonstration of insulin production in patients from a stem cell-derived islet replacement therapy"
The release said,
"Preliminary data show that implanted cells, when effectively engrafted, are capable of producing circulating C-peptide, a biomarker for insulin, in patients with type 1 diabetes."
Paul Laikind, CEO and president of the firm, declared,
“ViaCyte is the first and only company in human clinical trials with a stem cell-derived islet replacement therapy candidate, and we are now the first to demonstrate production of C-peptide in patients receiving implanted stem cell-derived islets. These data show that our PEC-01 cells are functioning as intended when appropriately engrafted. “While there is still more work to be done, this is an important milestone. We plan to present additional data in the near future.”

Laikind continued,
“ViaCyte has achieved a number of firsts in this field. Now with the first demonstration of insulin production in patients who have received PEC-Direct, we are confident we can be the first to deliver an effective stem cell-derived islet replacement therapy for type 1 diabetes.”
Asked for comment, CIRM's Millan said,
"This is encouraging news. We are very aware of the major biologic and technical challenges of an implantable cell therapy for Type 1 Diabetes, so this early biologic signal in patients is an important step for the ViaCyte program."

ViaCyte is scheduled to present its findings later today at the Cell & Gene Meeting on the Mesa. That session can be seen live on the Internet 1:45 p.m. PDT.