Deal boosts gene-editing technology aiming to cure Type 1 diabetes

In the latest move towards finding a stem cell-based cure for Type 1 diabetes, American company Vertex has announced a new agreement with CRISPR Therapeutics to allow Vertex to use established gene-editing technology to develop safer stem cell therapies for Type 1.

The move could accelerate the development of one of the most promising potential cures for Type 1 diabetes, which hopes to replace damaged insulin-producing cells with new ones, without needing drugs to suppress the recipient’s immune system.

Usually, implanted cells carry their own unique immune ‘signature’ in the genetic code, which differs from that of the recipient: the body’s immune system regards the cells as foreign and dangerous and will target them for destruction, in much the same way a person’s own beta cells are targeted for destruction when they have Type 1 diabetes.

However, using the CRISPR technology, Vertrex can alter the DNA of the stem cells to develop insulin-producing cells that avoid recognition by the immune system, evading the immune system attack completely.

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