ViaCyte Raises $10.6M as Artificial Pancreas Moves Toward Key Trials

Xconomy San Diego — 

ViaCyte, the San Diego regenerative medicine startup with a big idea for using stem cell-derived therapy to treat diabetes, says today it has raised $10.6 million through a private equity financing. The deal included the company’s largest existing investors—Johnson & Johnson, Sanderling Ventures, and the Johnson Trust.

ViaCyte says the funding matches the $10.1 million Strategic Partnership Award (SPA) approved by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine last October to support clinical evaluation of the company’s encapsulated cell-therapy product. ViaCyte is developing the technology for patients with type 1 and insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes.

ViaCyte says its lead product candidate, designated VC-01, consists of pancreatic precursor cells derived from a proprietary line of human embryonic stem cells and encapsulated in a proprietary, immune protective medical device that is implanted under the skin. The device allows the encapsulated cells to release insulin into the bloodstream, and does not require drugs to suppress the body’s immune response to the implanted cells.

The company says it plans to file its Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the FDA to initiate clinical trials in patients with type 1 diabetes early next year. If VC-01 performs in humans as it has in animals in preclinical studies, ViaCyte says, “it could significantly alleviate or eliminate the challenges and complications for Type 1 diabetics who manage their disease through careful control of diet, monitoring of blood glucose levels and injection of insulin.”

ViaCyte says it might sell additional shares of its preferred stock and warrants before the end of the year.