Type 1 Diabetes (T1DM) is a chronic disease that results from the autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Its cause is still uncertain and there is no known way to prevent its onset. With 70,000 new cases diagnosed each year, it is estimated that around 17 million people worldwide are afflicted with T1DM. In the US alone, T1DM results in $14.4 billion in medical costs and lost income annually.
Type 1 diabetics face a lifetime regime of insulin therapy and very careful lifestyle management in an attempt to mitigate the long-term complications associated with T1DM such as cardiovascular disease, damage to the eyes, kidneys and nerves, and premature death.
In recent years islet transplantation has been researched as a treatment for T1DM. The procedure involves injecting millions of islets (the pancreatic cell clusters that “house” the insulin-producing beta cells) harvested from cadavers, followed by immunosuppression therapy. Islet transplantation is a promising approach but the naked islets are very unstable: they must be transplanted almost immediately after harvesting and up to 80% of the transplanted islets stop functioning within 24hrs. The result is that, after five years, less than 10% of the recipients are free of daily insulin treatment.
Betalin’s technology is based on the foundation that in order for beta cells to function properly it is necessary to provide an appropriate micro-environment. The proprietary platform technology is a method to prepare micro-scaffolds that ensure that no seeded cell will be more than 150 microns from a source of nutrients and gases. The ultimate goal is to reduce or eliminate the dependence of most diabetics on insulin therapy.