Patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D) may be able to look forward to a life without frequent glucose tests and insulin injections. Israeli biomedical company Beta-O2 Technologies Ltd. has announced that the company received a $500K grant from global diabetes organization JDRF to help fund a $1M clinical trial of their ßAir bio-artificial pancreas.
The implanted insulin bioreactor contains islets of Langerhans, clusters of pancreatic cells that work together to regulate blood sugar, in an optimized hydrogel. The structure provides protection from the body’s immune system, removing the need for immunosuppressive therapy with implantation of the device. Patients will simply need to replenish the oxygen within the device through a port – a much less painful and less invasive alternative to constant needle pricks.
Beta-O2 chairman of the board, Dr. Dan Gelvan, commented on the technology:
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.
Eight participants will be enrolled for the study at Uppsala University in Sweden. The device has already demonstrated strong results in preclinical trials. Additionally, a 63-year-old patient was implanted with the device in Europe. According to the press release, results for this first-in-man study were also positive: “Persistent graft function in the device was demonstrated, with regulated insulin secretion and preservation of islet morphology and function without any immunosuppressive therapy.”
Dr. Gelvan also commented on future medical uses of the company’s innovative technology: “ßAir is able to support any type of cell source, which widens treatment possibilities.”
JDRF is currently sponsoring $568 million in scientific research in 17 countries. In 2012 alone, JDRF provided more than $110 million to T1D research. Since its founding in 1970, JDRF has funded more than $1.7 billion in diabetes research and has dramatically advanced the T1D scientific frontier and the management of this disease.