ViaCyte, Inc. (Formerly Known as Novocell, Inc.) Files Investigational New Drug Application And Device Master File With FDA For Novel Cell Replacement Therapy Product Candidate Designed To Treat Patients With Type 1 Diabetes

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SAN DIEGO, July 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- ViaCyte, Inc., a privately held regenerative medicine company developing a cell replacement therapy for the treatment of diabetes, today announced that it has filed an Investigational New Drug application (IND) with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking to initiate a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in patients with type 1 diabetes.  The trial would evaluate the safety and efficacy of ViaCyte's VC-01 product candidate, a stem cell-derived, encapsulated cell replacement therapy.  In a related development, ViaCyte submitted a Medical Device Master File (called MAF) to the FDA in support of the Encaptra® drug delivery system, the device component of the VC-01 product candidate.

ViaCyte logo.

"The filing of this IND represents the culmination of many years of research and development by a dedicated team focused on developing a cell replacement therapy for patients with type 1 diabetes and advancing our VC-01 product candidate to human clinical trials," said Paul Laikind, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of ViaCyte.  "The ViaCyte team has been assisted and supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) a leading organization focused on advancing the field of stem cell-based technologies, and JDRF, the leading advocacy organization for patients with type 1 diabetes," added Dr. Laikind.

ViaCyte's VC-01 product candidate consists of pancreatic progenitor cells, called PEC-01 cells, which are derived from a proprietary human embryonic stem cell line. These cells are then encapsulated by use of ViaCyte's Encaptra device.  When implanted under the skin, the PEC-01 cells are designed to mature and further differentiate into insulin-producing beta and other endocrine cells that regulate blood glucose in a manner similar or identical to the normal islets that comprise the endocrine pancreas.  

Based on a pre-IND meeting with the FDA and subsequent consultations, ViaCyte is proposing to initiate clinical evaluation of the VC-01 product candidate directly in patients with type 1 diabetes who have minimal to no insulin-producing beta cell function.  In addition to evaluating the safety of the product candidate in these patients, the study is designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the VC-01 product candidate in replacing lost endocrine function that is central to the disease. 

In the proposed clinical trial, insulin production from the VC-01 implant would be assessed by measuring C-peptide, a biomarker for insulin produced by beta cells that is expected to provide a sensitive measure of efficacy in these patients.  As proposed, the trial would also evaluate secondary end-points related to the need for administration of pharmaceutical insulin to control the disease and the incidence of hypoglycemia, a common side effect associated with pharmaceutical insulin usage.

ViaCyte's proprietary Encaptra device is designed to contain the implanted cells, preventing biodistribution, as well as shielding them from the immune system.  Although PEC-01 cells are human cells, they are not the patient's actual cells.  As such, they are considered an allogeneic graft, which typically requires immunosuppression in order for the recipient to tolerate the implant.  However, the Encaptra device is designed to prevent the patient's immune system from accessing the implanted cells, thereby facilitating successful engraftment and subsequent maturation to islets. 

The VC-01 product candidate is designed to be placed under the skin of the patient and can be monitored and readily removed, if or when required. The option to remove the cells is designed to provide an important safety benefit for this novel stem cell-derived cell therapy candidate.  It is being regulated as a biologic through interaction with the Office of Cell, Tissue and Gene Therapy within CBER at the FDA.  Given the combination product nature of the product candidate, the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the FDA is also involved in its regulation. 

About ViaCyte
ViaCyte is a private regenerative medicine company currently focused on development of a novel cell therapy for the treatment of diabetes.  The Company's VC-01 product candidate is based on the production of pancreatic progenitors derived from human pluripotent stem cells.  These cells are implanted in a durable and retrievable encapsulation device called the Encaptra drug delivery system.  Once implanted and matured, these cells are designed to secrete insulin and other regulatory factors in response to blood glucose levels.  ViaCyte is funded in part by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and JDRF.  For more information please visit

About CIRM
CIRM was established in November 2004 with the passage of Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. The statewide ballot measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at California universities and research institutions, was overwhelmingly approved by voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital research.

About JDRF
JDRF is the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF's goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people's lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence and a working plan to bring life-changing therapies from the lab to the community. As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF is currently sponsoring $568 million in charitable research in 17 countries. For more information, please visit

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