NZ biotech to inject pig cells into diabetics

After 10 years of work, Living Cell Technologies in New Zealand has received the green light from the government to launch an unusual human trial of a new diabetes therapy. Volunteers in the trial will be injected with pig cells, an approach the company believes will help to regulate the way their bodies produce insulin. The cells are first coated with purified sea weed so that their immune system won't recognize them and attack the cells.

"Once they have one of these implants, which is a very simple procedure, it seems to take away the wild swings (in insulin production) and helps the management," says company founder David Collinson. The two-year trial gets underway in February with eight patients. Collinson says that NZ regulators had dragged their feet for years before approving the trial.

Living Cell Technologies says it already has one such trial underway in Russia and has been gathering positive data from volunteers in that study.

- check out LCT's release
- read the report from the AAP