Vertex to Acquire ViaCyte, With the Goal of Accelerating its Potentially Curative VX-880 Programs in Type 1 Diabetes

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) today announced that the company has entered into a definitive agreement under which Vertex will acquire ViaCyte, a privately held biotechnology company focused on delivering novel stem cell-derived cell replacement therapies as a functional cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D), for $320 million in cash.

“VX-880 has successfully demonstrated clinical proof of concept in T1D, and the acquisition of ViaCyte 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,” said Reshma Kewalramani, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and President of Vertex.

Vertex’s VX-880, an investigational allogeneic stem cell-derived, fully differentiated, insulin-producing islet cell therapy for T1D, has already achieved proof-of-concept with highly promising safety and efficacy results from an ongoing Phase 1/2 study which continues to enroll and dose patients. The acquisition of ViaCyte provides Vertex with complementary assets, capabilities and technologies including additional human stem cell lines, intellectual property around stem cell differentiation, and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) manufacturing facilities for cell-based therapies that could accelerate Vertex’s ongoing T1D programs. The acquisition also provides access to novel hypoimmune stem cell assets via the ViaCyte collaboration with CRISPR Therapeutics.

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This looks interesting, but how do they manage the autoimmune reaction? Making islet cells from stem cells has been done before, but it’s still going to evoke a strong immune response from T1’s unless immunosuppressants are used. What would be truly groundbreaking is a stem cell therapy that produces islet cells that are not rejected by the T1 immune system

I was reading up on this and found a great article that stated
“Using CRISPR technology, the genetic code of the implanted cells is modified to create beta cells that avoid all recognition by the immune system. This collaboration aims to eliminate the requirement of patients taking daily immunosuppressants to stop the immune system from attacking the implanted cells.”
Link to the article- First Patient Dosed in Phase 1 Clinical Trial for T1D | The Stem Cellar


Wow! That is amazing and the holy grail restoring endogenous insulin production. If they can reproduce this at scale, it will the closest we’ve come to a “cure” for T1

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This is great news and I think very promising.

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I predict the cure is just about five years out.

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I looked into joining a clinical trial. Actually 2 of them one for each company. They are doing things differently. One is encapsulated the other is the old fashioned way of injecting cells into your portal vein and attaching the cells to your liver.

Both require a heavy continuous dose of anti rejection meds.
That’s the reason I decided to not participate.

The anti rejection drugs are harder on your body than diabetes has ever been. So I’ll wait a while to see how this goes.

The drugs are also very expensive. And yes the study pays for them during the study.

And lastly the implanted ones, I can’t remember which company has which, but they implant these devices under your skin in all different areas, then they remove them ove 2 years.
So even if they were working, they take them out to look and see how they were doing etc.

That’s just a lot to go through to push science forward and to be left without any benefit in the end.

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I signed up for both. However, I am under no illusions, they will not pick me because of RA.

You are correct. They limit it to no other auto immune disorders. Also limit it to 60 years old and you need to have a documented history hypo unawareness.
I actually passed the requirements, I had interviews with doctors and even the doctor in charge of the study.

But after getting all the information, I decided to not continue.
It just seemed too risky

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