EGenesis taps Duke to help develop insulin-producing pancreas cell xenotransplants

EGenesis has announced a research collaboration with Duke University’s school of medicine to help develop its xenotransplantation technology into a cell therapy for diabetes.

The project will begin evaluating insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells derived from animals that have been genetically engineered to be compatible with humans. This includes an in vivo study of the xenotransplants in primates to establish surgical approaches before moving forward to full clinical trials in the future.

“There are 1.6 million Americans who live with type 1 diabetes and whose quality of life is greatly impacted by the monitoring of their glucose levels and the need for multiple insulin injections on a daily basis,” said Allan Kirk, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the department of surgery and a professor of immunology at Duke. 

“With advancements in gene editing technology, there is now the potential of developing and safely transplanting human-compatible xeno-islet cells, which could allow these patients to reduce or eliminate their need for glucose monitoring and insulin injections,” Kirk added. “The research we will conduct at Duke will help determine whether a minimally-invasive approach into human clinical studies might be possible.”

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The former Fierce MedTech Fierce 15 winner previously launched a similar collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital in 2017 and expanded it earlier this year to study modified solid organ transplants as well as cell therapies.

EGenesis’ initial product is a genetically engineered kidney transplant that aims to greatly increase the number of organs available to people on the U.S. waiting list, which tops 110,000 people.

“EGenesis’ mission is to develop human-compatible organs, tissues and cells to alleviate the organ shortage crisis and to improve the health and quality of life of all patients who could benefit from transplant,” said Michael Curtis, Ph.D., eGenesis’ president of R&D. “This collaboration with Duke, a leading transplant center with deep expertise in immunology and diabetes, will accelerate our research and provide validation of our xeno-islet cell program, leading to the evaluation in human clinical trials in patients with type 1 diabetes.”