Bubbling with excitement – new encapsulation trial for type 1 diabetes is step towards life without injections

Posted on 21 August 2014

This week saw a big milestone in type 1 diabetes research: approval was given for the first human trials of a ‘macroencapsulation device’ filled with stem cells programmed to become insulin-producing cells.news_betacells

JDRF has been working with US company ViaCyte for a number of years to support the development of a product that could transform the lives of people with type 1, by providing a way for them to produce insulin ‘on demand’ without pumps or sensors.

The product is designed to work by giving people a stock of immature cells that are programmed to develop into insulin-producing cells. These are contained within a physical device that can be implanted into the body and acts as a protective bubble to keep the new cells safe from immune attack.

The announcement means that Viacyte can start testing the device in people with type 1 for the first time – so far the system has only been tested in animals. The first trials will primarily focus on making sure that the device is safe and causes no ill effects, but will also measure how well the cells are able to produce insulin.

Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK said: ‘I’m really excited to see this innovative product moving into clinical trials for the first time. JDRF has made supporting encapsulation research a priority because we believe this approach could free people with type 1 from the physical and mental burdens of testing, carb counting and injecting or pumping insulin that are currently the norm.

‘We look forward to seeing results from this trial, and progress in other encapsulation projects around the world.’

Read more about encapsulation research, and find out how you could support innovative research projects like this.