The funding will be used to fund the company’s advanced portfolio of stem cell-derived therapies, said ViaCyte’s President and CEO Michael Yang, who joined the company in January.
“There have been few paradigm shifting innovations in the 100 years since the discovery of insulin,” said Yang. “ViaCyte’s portfolio of stem cell-derived therapies are first-in-category, first-in-class products that represent major advances in finding a functional cure for type 1 diabetes and other chronic diseases in the future.”
“This financing should allow us to accelerate the development of our three novel approaches to reduce the burden faced by people with type 1 diabetes. With several of our therapies already in the clinic, we look forward to an exciting year of progress in our clinical trials,” he said.
Founded in 1999, ViaCyte is developing multiple programs aimed at treating type 1 diabetes.
ViaCyte’s lead asset, PEC-Direct, is designed to treat diabetes by administering stem cell-derived pancreatic progenitor cells in an implantable device. The treatment is limited to high-risk patients because patients must take immunosuppressants long term.
PEC-Direct is meant for the most severe cases of type 1, or insulin-dependent, diabetes. It allows blood vessels to grow into the device to contact the cells. To prevent an immune reaction, patients get immunosuppressive drugs.
In 2018, CRISPR Therapeutics penned a deal with ViaCyte to develop off-the-shelf, gene-editing stem cell therapies for diabetes. In partnership with CRISPR, ViaCyte is working to potentially eliminate the need for immunosuppressants. The two companies unveiled positive preclinical data in September last year.
Under a deal that could span discovery, development and commercialization, ViaCyte is set to receive $15 million from CRISPR Therapeutics, which can pay in either cash or company stock.