Johnson & Johnson, continuing its long quest for a Type 1 diabetes cure, is joining forces with biotech company ViaCyte to speed development of the first stem cell treatment that could fix the life-threatening hormonal disorder.
They’ve already begun testing it in a small number of diabetic patients. If it works as well in patients as it has in animals, it would amount to a cure, ending the need for frequent insulin injections and blood sugar testing.
ViaCyte and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen BetaLogics group said Thursday they’ve agreed to combine their knowledge and hundreds of patents on their research under ViaCyte, a longtime J&J partner focused on regenerative medicine.
The therapy involves inducing embryonic stem cells in a lab dish to turn into insulin-producing cells, then putting them inside a small capsule that is implanted under the skin. The capsule protects the cells from the immune system, which otherwise would attack them as invaders – a roadblock that has stymied other research projects.