‘Disappointing’ ViaCyte data raise questions about future of company’s attempted diabetes cure

Over the last 20 years, ViaCyte — under one name or another — has pursued one of the most audacious goals in biotech: a cure for type 1 diabetes.

The company’s plan was to take lab-grown stem cells and turn them into the insulin-producing cells that are destroyed in T1D patients. The first attempt to implant these cells into patients in 2014 failed entirely. But the San Diego biotech regrouped and launched trials for a new candidate in 2017, raising $80 million in the process.

Earlier this month, the company published the first major results from those studies, finding that of 26 patients followed, only four “suggest… some clinical benefit.” None of the patients produced anywhere close to enough insulin to stop taking injections.

ViaCyte called the data “promising,” noting it found the therapy safe and provided the first…
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