Type 1 diabetes is a common chronic disease, affecting millions of people throughout the world, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own pancreatic cells, stopping the production of insulin. Though it was previously considered a childhood disease, type 1 diabetes is known to affect people at every age, and it has no cure. Treatment for type 1 diabetes requires constant vigilance, including frequent injections or infusions of insulin, blood sugar testing multiple times daily, and dietary and lifestyle modifications. Still, an important percentage of patients will develop chronic complications such as diabetic polyneuropathy or diabetic kidney disease in their lifetime, due to challenges adhering to this schedule or to the peaks and troughs of insulin delivery.
A potential future treatment being studied is islet cell transplantation. However, this approach suffers from a critical flaw: A patient’s immune system will reject the islet cells unless the treatment is co-administered with immunosuppressant drugs, which carry their own risks.
We are working with our partner Eli Lilly to develop Shielded Living Therapeutics™ products for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. The therapeutic goal of these products will be to restore normal cell function by both sensing blood glucose levels and releasing insulin over the long term, freeing patients from constant disease management.