The World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Harvard School of Public Health report entitled “The Global Economic Burden of Non-communicable Diseases” estimates global diseases
kill 36 million people every year and will cost upwards of US$47 trillion by 2030.
The World Health Organization's four biggest killers; cancer, heart disease, diabetes and
chronic respiratory disease are dominant in non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality
and morbidity. All four are increasing in prevalence and the cost of treatment is spiraling
out of control.
Exactly what is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are too high.
Much of the food you eat is broken down into a simple sugar called glucose. In response
to a rise in glucose levels after a meal the islets beta-cells in the pancreas read blood glucose
levels and secrete insulin into the blood. Insulin acts to open the gates of cells allowing the
glucose to move from the blood stream into the cells where it can be utilized for energy.
A Type 1 diabetes diagnosis means the pancreatic beta cells that read glucose levels and secrete
insulin have been damaged or destroyed. Thus glucose cannot move from the bloodstream into the cells.
A Type 2 (insulin resistance) diabetes diagnosis is a far more common verdict for people than
Type 1. Insulin resistance happens because of chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin levels.
These elevated levels of sugar and insulin have the effect of "numbing" the cellular processes which
move the sugar from the blood stream to the cells - the body cannot respond to the insulin "requests" to move blood sugar into the cells. Roughly 27% of the people who start out as Type 2
diabetics, will, in the future require insulin injections similar to Type 1 diabetics.
Between Type-1 and Type-2 patients with diabetes the total number of diabetics requiring insulin
in just North America, is about nine million.
Sernova Corp. TSX:V-SVA is a Canadian-based medical device development company focused on
chronic metabolic, neurological, and haematological diseases. Due to the enormous market and
potential for significantly improved patient treatment, Sernova’s first product focus is on diabetes.
Sernova’s Cell Pouch System™ is a versatile, scalable credit card-sized device, made of FDA approved
materials that provides a natural "organ-like" environment for therapeutic cells such as insulin
producing islets for diabetics. Think of the Cell Pouch System™ as a potential natural insulin producing
pump with the added benefit of fine-tuned glucose control. Placed under the skin in a simple inexpensive
procedure it develops endocrine pancreas like characteristics when islets are placed into the device taking
over normal glucose control. A key feature of the device is its ability to stimulate natural microvessel
development, thought to be essential for long-term survival and function of therapeutic cells.
Sernova Corp. has entered a research collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, supported with funding from JDRF to develop a novel treatment for diabetes.
Sernova and Dr. Mark Poznansky, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital will collaborate on the project, with JDRF providing $150,000 USD in funding support. The collaboration will incorporate a proprietary local immune protectant technology within Sernova's novel Cell Pouch as a potential new treatment for patients with insulin-dependent diabetes.
"Sernova is pleased to be working with Dr. Poznansky, a world renowned expert in understanding and modulating molecular processes of the immune system for therapeutic uses, whose laboratory discovered the novel protectant technology and we are similarly pleased to be working with JDRF and to receive shared support for this work," said Dr. Philip Toleikis, President and CEO of Sernova Corp.
Islet transplantation represents a potentially durable cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D) by replacing the lost beta islet cells with new, functional insulin producing cells. Application of islet transplantation as a treatment for T1D is currently limited by a number of significant obstacles: a very limited availability of transplantable islets derived from human cadaveric donors, the immune destruction of the islets following transplantation and the need for an implantable, scalable and retrievable device for delivering therapeutic cells.
Sernova's patented Cell Pouch uses biocompatible polymers to develop, highly vascularized subcutaneous tissue chambers for the placement, survival and long term function of islets and other therapeutic cells. Over the past six years, Sernova's Cell Pouch has demonstrated an excellent safety profile and efficacy benefit in small and large animal models of disease and importantly, in humans with severe diabetes, islets transplanted into the Cell Pouch have been shown to become highly vascularized and able to produce their therapeutic product.
"Sernova's goal for the treatment of diabetes is to develop a product consisting of our prevascularized, human scaled Cell Pouch which creates an ideal environment for locally immune-protected therapeutic cells from a virtually unlimited source to treat all patients with insulin-dependent diabetes," added Dr. Toleikis.
"Our collaboration with Sernova is designed to address the obstacles of current portal vein islet transplantation by combining a proprietary local immune protectant for transplanted cells from a virtually unlimited source, within a biocompatible device that enhances microvessel formation and thereby oxygen supply to the graft," said Dr. Poznansky. He continued, "This combination is designed to unlock the potential of advanced therapeutic cell treatment that could meet the needs of the growing population of patients with diabetes."
"We see Sernova's approach to treating diabetes with its prevascularized implantable Cell Pouch? using virtually unlimited cell sources that are locally protected from the immune system as being directly aligned with the research emphasis of JDRF and look forward to the results from the collaboration with Dr. Poznansky," said Dr. Albert Hwa, JDRF's Director of Discovery Research.