JDRF sinks $2.5M into Sernova's cell-based implant for Type 1 diabetes

JDRF is funneling almost $2.5 million into Canadian med tech Sernova’s efforts to develop its innovative implant for Type 1 diabetes.

Under the terms of the deal, Sernova will use the cash to run a human clinical trial at a major transplantation center in the U.S., the company said in a statement. If all goes according to plan, the research will help advance Sernova’s Cell Pouch System, an implantable medical device that treats low blood sugar in people with severe Type 1 diabetes by releasing therapeutic cells.

The system could offer an advantage over current treatments, which often rely on injections to deliver therapy. Many patients can’t undergo injections because of potentially lethal complications.

“Sernova and JDRF are tightly aligned in our vision to see cell-based therapies developed to reduce disease burden and significantly increase the quality of life for people living with [Type 1 diabetes],” Sernova CEO Philip Toleikis said in a statement. “We see our work with JDRF on this important clinical trial as an exciting opportunity to more rapidly advance Sernova’s therapies to treat people with diabetes and address many of the shortcomings and challenges of current insulin therapy.”

This is not the first time JDRF has backed Sernova's device. Last year, JDRF provided funding for the London, Ontario-based company's preclinical research with Massachusetts General Hospital. The organization is “proud to continue our support as Sernova’s technologies progress into new safety and efficacy clinical trials,” JDRF CEO Derek Rapp said in a statement.

Sernova is not the only company working on an implantable system for diabetes. Semma Therapeutics is also developing a device that could create insulin through stem cell-derived beta cells. The company locked down funding from big names such as Novartis ($NVS) and Medtronic ($MDT) last year.