This morning on Canada AM, country music star George Canyon and David Prowten, president of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) talked about their great hopes for a new stem cell device that could free diabetics from daily insulin injections.
Mr. Canyon, who has had type 1 diabetes since age 14, called the device “the closest thing to a cure that I have ever seen … This is going to change the lives of 300,000 type 1 diabetics in Canada.”
Mr. Prowten, holding up the four-centimetre-long device, described it as “a big step forward.”
The Encaptra device, developed by a California-based biotechnology company called ViaCyte Inc. with help from the University of Alberta’s Dr. James Shapiro, has been featured in this space before.
Dr. Shapiro received Health Canada’s approval earlier this year to conduct a Phase1/2 clinical trial of the stem cell-derived islet replacement treatment for diabetes. It involves inserting the device, which is loaded with pancreatic progenitor cells, under the patient’s skin where new blood vessels grow around it and the body’s immune system doesn’t try to destroy it, enabling regulation of blood glucose levels. The Edmonton-based trial, supported by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions and JDRF, follows one ViaCyte began last year in San Diego.
According to the Canada AM report, the first patient has now received the device. The early stage testing will be to see if the device is safe and is well tolerated. Within a year to 18 months scientists should learn if it actually works. If it does,
“This could give me 10 to 12 months at a time of not really having diabetes, being able to go a day without testing, and taking insulin, Mr. Canyon said. “This is Disney World, right here.”
The report shows how close Canadian stem cell researchers are to delivering bold new therapies for a number of life-threatening conditions including, heart disease, cancer and Multiple Sclerosis. And it provides one more reason for telling politicians who are currently seeking your vote that you support the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan to bring more clinical trials to Canada. Take a minute to show your support here.