Gene-edited pancreatic islet cells: an important first step towards human clinical trials for type 1 diabetes.
eGenesis, a biotech company using gene-editing technologies for the development of safe and effective human-compatible organs, tissues, and cells, is embarking on a research collaboration with Duke University School of Medicine to address type 1 diabetes.
Longevity.Technology: This collaboration is the latest development in an ongoing effort to advance xenotransplant treatment options for hundreds of thousands of patients in need of a replacement organ. Various virology and immunology hurdles have impeded xenotransplantation to date, but gene-editing technology such as CRISPR is allowing significant progress to be made. As well as replacement organs, this partnership could expand the applicability of xenotransplantation into other areas such as cell therapy.
Following the recent June 2020 expansion of a partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital that facilitated transgenic solid organ testing, eGenesis has initiated a research collaboration with Duke University School of Medicine. This latest collaboration will involve gene-edited pancreatic islet cells from non-human primates and should prove a key step towards human clinical trials of these xeno cells for type 1 diabetes patients.
The concept of xenotransplantation, or the transplantation of organs, tissue and cells from one species to another, has been explored for several decades, with the pig considered the most suitable donor species for humans. However, challenges related to molecular incompatibilities between species as well as virologic concerns have stymied the advancement of the field.
This new collaboration will encompass evaluation of gene-edited pancreatic islet cells in non-human primate recipients as a prerequisite to advancing to xeno-human clinical trials. This collaboration is in addition to an existing eGenesis partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital, initiated in 2017.
The research on gene-edited pancreatic islet cells will be conducted in the laboratory of Dr Allan Kirk, Professor in the Department of Immunology at Duke University School of Medicine.
“There are 1.6 million Americans who live with type 1 diabetes and whose quality of life is greatly impacted by the monitoring of their glucose levels and the need for multiple insulin injections on a daily basis,” said Dr Kirk.
“eGenesis’ mission is to develop human-compatible organs, tissues and cells to alleviate the organ shortage crisis and to improve the health and quality of life of all patients who could benefit from transplant.”
“With advancements in gene editing technology, there is now the potential of developing and safely transplanting human-compatible xeno-islet cells, which could allow these patients to reduce or eliminate their need for glucose monitoring and insulin injections,” he added. “The research we will conduct at Duke will help determine whether a minimally-invasive approach into human clinical studies might be possible.”
Dr Michael Curtis, President of R&D at eGenesis added, “eGenesis’ mission is to develop human-compatible organs, tissues and cells to alleviate the organ shortage crisis and to improve the health and quality of life of all patients who could benefit from transplant.”
He added: “This collaboration with Duke, a leading transplant center with deep expertise in immunology and diabetes, will accelerate our research and provide validation of our xeno-islet cell program, leading to the evaluation in human clinical trials in patients with type 1 diabetes. We look forward to working with our new colleagues to advance the field of organ, tissue, and cell transplantation.”
Longevity.Technology will be featuring an interview with Dr Mike Curtis of eGenesis next week – stay tuned!