Bioartificial adrenal device readies to follow bioartificial pancreas into the clinic

βAir Bio-Artificial Pancreas--Courtesy of Israeli startup Beta-O2

Startup Beta-O2 Technologies already has a bioartificial pancreas in a tiny three-person clinical trial. Now, it has preclinical data for its next device that uses the same implantable bioreactor technology with a new cell type--the βAir Bio-artificial Adrenal system.

The idea is for the cells within the device, either adrenal cells to treat adrenocortical insufficiency and other stress-related disorders or pancreatic endocrine cells to produce insulin to treat Type 1 diabetes.

The preclinical results of creating a device with bovine adrenocortical cells were published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). The study found that these cells are suitable to be implanted within humans in the special, oxygenated, immune-isolating device. The researchers also said that transplantation of xenogenic cells to biomatrices is promising, but they expect that with the current state of the technology this would lead to rejection by the host's immune system.

"The Bio-artificial Adrenal supersedes an immunosuppression completely. The donor cells will be protected against the immune system responses of the patient," one of the study authors Stefan Bornstein of the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus in Dresden, Germany said in a statement.

He added, "The system lets hormones pass the half-permeable walls into the body of the receiver. Our vision is that people in the future may even receive adrenal cells from another species, as, for example, from the pig. The device creates the biotechnical conditions for it."

The device is designed to sustain, isolate and protect the adrenal or pancreatic cells, which have not proven amenable to outright transplantation, and to enable them to produce sufficient quantities to improve the endocrine system perhaps enough to actually cure the condition.

"We found that when placed in the βAir, the life span of the adrenal cells significantly increased. The capacity of the adrenal cells for stable, long-term basal hormone release significantly improved as well, as did their response to various stimulating hormones," Beta-O2 chairman Dr. Dan Gelvan said in a statement. "Additionally, as described in the PNAS article, we learned that βAir has xeno transplantation or cross species capabilities."

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is backing the Type 1 diabetes trial with a $1 million grant. Beta-O2 investors include Aurum Ventures, Sherpa Innoventures, SCP Vitalife Partners, Pitango Venture Capital and Saints Capital.

- here is the release
- and here is the study

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