Vitro Diagnostics has announced the development of new methods for the growth and development of human pancreatic beta islets (Islets of Langerhans) and the filing of a new patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Type I diabetes (diabetes mellitus) affects about 15 million people worldwide and may be successfully treated by beta islet transplants. However, there is insufficient supply of transplantable materials to treat the number of afflicted patients and discovery of viable methods to increase the number of available beta islets for transplantation is a major diabetes research goal.
The Company believes that its new method for the growth and differentiation of human beta islets will eventually provide an alternative source for transplantable materials and also provide important research tools for discovery of new methods to induce regeneration and restoration of pancreatic function without the need for transplantation surgery.
The Company developed a novel in-vitro model system of human stem cells that can be induced to form beta islets under the appropriate environmental conditions. The Company has successfully produced significant numbers of islets that contain and secrete insulin in response to elevated glucose stimulation and these islets have been maintained and expanded for several months in cell culture, a method for the growth of cells outside of the body. Further development of this new method may yield sufficient material to expand the availability of transplantable materials for treatment of Type I diabetics.
Also, the Company's technology allows study of factors affecting beta islet growth and differentiation from stem cells and such results may yield new drugs that selectively stimulate beta cell regeneration without the need for transplantation. Drugs inducing beta cell regeneration may then be combined with therapies to block immune rejection of the newly formed cells, thereby restoring normal function to the pancreas gland.
Dr. Jim Musick, Vitro's President and CEO said, "We are very pleased to announce the development of new methods for the growth a differentiation of human beta islets in culture. We are committed to the further development of this technology as a potential new stem cell therapy for Type I diabetes, a debilitating disease in terms of human suffering and health care costs. We also welcome the opportunity to expand collaboration with other scientists to further explore the basic scientific aspects of this new phenomenon and determine its application to other diseases that may treated by stem cell therapy such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. We anticipate commercial availability of our Human Beta Islets and related products for research applications in the near future."