Synthecon Receives $738,000 Phase II Grant From The National Institutes Of Health (NIH) To Improve Islet Transplantation Techniques To Treat Type 1 Diabetes
HOUSTON, TX; August 26, 2008: Synthecon, Inc., a Johnson Space Center spin-off, announced today that the Company has received notice from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that its $738,000 Phase II Grant proposal to improve the transplantation of pancreatic islets in type 1 diabetic patients has been approved for funding. Synthecon’s Phase II Grant follows successful completion of a Phase I Grant from the NIH, which developed improved methods to culture insulin-producing pancreatic islets. The Phase II Grant provides development funding needed to design, test and commercialize a disposable, patient-specific version of Synthecon’s Rotary Cell Culture System (RCCStm) for treatment of type I diabetic patients and perform certification testing needed for FDA approval.
Type 1 diabetes affects more than 1 million patients in the United States alone. Transplantation of insulin producing islets from organ donors in diabetic patients has been successful in achieving insulin independence. In preliminary studies, islets cultured in the RCCS were superior to conventionally cultured islets in reversing an animal model of diabetes. The Phase II Grant will apply this technique to human diabetic patients.
Synthecon will collaborate with the Cell Isolation and Cell Transplantation program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in carrying out this work. The Grant provides funding for a small clinical trial to be carried out UIC that will test the safety in humans of using islets cultured in the Synthecon Rotary Cell Culture System. UIC is one of the leading centers of islet transplantation in the United States. The islet transplant team is lead by Dr. Jose Oberholzer, who is the Program Director, Cell Isolation and Cell Transplantation and the Transplant Division Chief at UIC. Dr. Oberholzer's team will transplant islets cultured in the new RCCS produced from this grant into type 1 diabetic patients and perform follow-up assessment of the patients.
William Anderson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Synthecon, commented, “We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this Grant to improve islet transplantation techniques. Working with the University of Illinois at Chicago, this Grant places Synthecon’s rotary bioreactor at the forefront of technology that can potentially lead to a cure for type 1 diabetes. We also expect that the advanced RCCS developed as a result of this grant will be a platform for other regenerative medicine applications.”
Synthecon designs and manufactures rotating bioreactors used in cell culture and tissue engineering applications. In addition to being recognized as a “Fast Tech Fifty” company, Synthecon was a previous recipient of the “R&D 100” award for its technology. Originally based on a license from NASA for the rotating wall bioreactor, Synthecon has gone on to design and patent numerous innovations to the basic technology. Marketed under the trademark Rotary Cell Culture Systemtm, Synthecon bioreactors are recognized in several hundred peer-reviewed scientific publications to be a leader in growing three-dimensional human tissue analogs. In addition to developing a bioreactor for use in islet transplantation, the company is developing commercial bioreactor systems for recombinant protein therapeutics. Synthecon also has collaborations in the repair of difficult bone fractures and stem cell regenerative medicine. Synthecon is a graduate of the Houston Technology Center.