Allele SCM partnership looks to stem cells to treat diabetes

Allele Biotechnology has teamed with SCM Lifescience to develop diabetes therapies using pancreatic beta cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

“By nature, pluripotent stem cells like iPSCs can be expanded indefinitely and differentiated into all human tissue types, including pancreatic cells,” a spokesperson from the San Diego-based biotech Allele, told Bioprocess Insider. Therefore, they can be a viable option for diabetes treatment.

“iPSC-derived cells are already known to have biological functions, such as blood sugar sensing and insulin secretion capabilities, of iPSC-derived beta cells,” the spokesperson added.

Image: iStock/Stepan Popov

“The very fact that iPSCs can be made for each person also opens the door for creating regenerative medicine options for diabetic patients who have lost pancreatic functions (who also do not have an auto-immune problem against beta cells, otherwise gene editing may be needed).”

Allele and SCM

As such, the firm is combining its iPSC tech platforms and production with SCM’s experience in cell therapy clinical trials to develop stem cell-based diabetes treatments.

Allele has a patented technology which to create iPSCs it says have higher efficiency and more desired properties than produced using other methods. The firm established the process at its 18,000 square-foot facility in San Diego, acquired in 2015.

“Allele further brings to the table it’s mRNA-based iPSC differentiation platform for creating unlimited number of pancreatic beta cells under cGMP,” the firm told us.

Meanwhile, “SCM has been running clinical trials on pancreas-related diseases using their tissue-isolated mesenchymal stem cells,” the spokesperson added. “They have a great understanding of GMP production of cells and trial design. And with their recent purchase of an American company in North Carolina, they are strengthening their operations in the US, and work more closely with Allele.”

SCM acquired Argos Therapeutics in February for 12.5 billion KRW ($11 million), adding a 20,000 square-foot GMP plant.

Initially, the collaboration will look to develop an autologous product for certain forms of Type 3c Diabetes (T3cDM), though the firms also envisage off-the-shelf products for other types of diabetes using its growing bank of iPSCs and gene editing technologies.

“There will be a few years for the program to go through preclinical to clinical trials,” we were told said. Financial details of the partnership have not been divulged.

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