Big information in the race for a sort 1 diabetes remedy: Vertex Pharmaceuticals will purchase ViaCyte. The two companies have been beforehand direct opponents, each pioneering related potential sort diabetes 1 cures utilizing transplanted lab-grown islet cells.
A Vertex spokesman said that the acquisition “will accelerate our goal of transforming, if not curing T1D by expanding our capabilities and bringing additional tools, technologies and assets to our current stem cell-based programs.”
Right now, the influence of the deal is unclear. It’s not simple to predict if this can hasten or gradual progress in direction of a stem cell-based remedy.
One the one hand, competitors is the engine of innovation in capitalism, and it have to be thought of factor when a number of companies are racing one another to the end line. The deal raised a minimum of a couple of eyebrows amongst buyers; some wondered if the Federal Trade Commission would examine the acquisition for an antitrust violation. A cynical interpretation may level out that this wouldn’t be the first time a bigger enterprise acquired a smaller one to eradicate its competitors.
But in an ideal world, combining the property of the two biotech companies would velocity up the progress.
I reached out to ViaCyte, and expressed issues that consolidating the two companies would cut back the aggressive incentive. Marie Rossi, PhD, ViaCyte’s senior director of communications, informed me that the deal represented “the best path to accelerate cell-based therapies for patients living with T1D” by offering “both companies with complementary assets, capabilities, and technologies.”
As of as we speak, Vertex is a minimum of few steps forward of ViaCyte. Their first affected person is now insulin-free, an amazing landmark that led a few of the mainstream media to surprise if he’d already been “cured.” But many in the diabetes neighborhood don’t think about it a real remedy, as a result of he nonetheless wants to take immunosuppressive medication – and can want to achieve this for the remainder of his life. Those medication can include hefty unwanted effects.
That’s the place ViaCyte might are available. Although each Vertex and ViaCyte have lengthy labored on methods of encapsulating transplanted islet cells in order that they are often bodily shielded from the immune system, ViaCyte now has a extra promising resolution. It has begun experimenting with islet cells which have been gene-edited to evade the immune system. This method, which employs the “revolutionary” Nobel Prize-winning CRISPR technology, may be the successful formulation for a purposeful sort 1 diabetes remedy. If it really works, these edited cells would cover in plain sight from the physique’s immune assaults, together with the autoimmunity dysfunction that causes sort 1 diabetes in the first place.
Did Vertex buy ViaCyte so as to mix the new gene-editing breakthrough with its personal laboratory’s progress? It looks like cheap hypothesis.
As for ViaCyte, we simply received an honest thought of their probably motivations due to the current launch of the documentary The Human Trial. The movie offers us an intimate take a look at the firm, following the ViaCyte scientists engaged on the potential remedy (and the brave volunteers prepared to take a look at it). The film portrays a number of ViaCyte workers tearfully explaining their dedication to the trigger – but it surely additionally exposes the precarious monetary place that the startup has discovered itself in. We observe ViaCyte executives as they traipse throughout the globe on the lookout for buyers, and listen to them admit that it’s all however inevitable that they’ll finally want to companion with bigger companies to carry their remedy to market. It’s comprehensible if that admission strikes an ominous word for some readers, given the fraught relationship a few of us have with the big pharmaceutical corporations that make the insulin we’d like to survive.
The highway to a remedy has been lengthy and bumpy, filled with false hopes and unrealistic guarantees. Here’s hoping that these two companies will mix forces to work higher and sooner for individuals with sort 1 diabetes.
Read extra about remedy analysis, insulin, Intensive administration, islet cell transplant, vertex, viacyte.