B.C. researchers launching clinical trial for first genetically engineered stem cell-based therapy for type 1 diabetes

Research Excellence | Strategy 10: Research Culture
Theme: Innovation
Photo credit: Unsplash

Researchers from UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) have received $1-million from Canada’s Stem Cell Network to conduct research and a clinical trial for one of the world’s first genetically engineered cell replacement therapies for type 1 diabetes. Researchers say the study is an important step toward developing a potential functional cure for type 1 diabetes. The novel investigative treatment, developed by biotechnology companies CRISPR Therapeutics and ViaCyte, is designed to enable type 1 diabetes patients to produce insulin through a small medical implant that contains millions of pancreatic cells derived from CRISPR gene-edited stem cells.

“This has the potential to transform the management of type 1 diabetes, hopefully eliminating the need for daily insulin injections and overcoming the drawbacks of previous therapies,” says Dr. David Thompson, a clinical assistant professor of endocrinology at UBC and director of VCH’s Vancouver General Hospital Diabetes Centre who is leading the study. “I am very grateful to the Stem Cell Network for supporting this important work.”

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