33% of Type 1 diabetes patients insulin-free with stem cells

A potential stem cell–derived pancreatic islet cell replacement therapy (VX-880, from Vertex Pharmaceuticals) continues to show promise as a treatment for Type 1 diabetes, according to the latest data from a review of six patients.

Two of the six in the trial have been insulin-independent for more than one year after receiving infusions of VX-880, and three others who have received them more recently are on a similar trajectory, with the remaining one dropping out of the trial because of reasons unrelated to the therapy. The remaining five are continuing to receive immunosuppressive treatment to prevent rejection of the islets.

The six all had undetectable insulin secretion and impaired hypoglycemic awareness and severe hypoglycemia as the criterion to enter the study.

“These new findings demonstrate the potential of stem cell-derived islets as a future treatment for patients with Type 1 diabetes, signaling a new era that could potentially remove the need for exogenously administered insulin to achieve glycemic control,” said lead investigator Trevor W. Reichman, MD, PhD, surgical director of Pancreas and Islet Cell Transplantation at the University of Toronto, Canada.

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