Growing Insulin-Producing Cells in the Liver to Cure Diabetes…and Treat Pancreatitis

A venture called Orgenesis is working on a novel treatment for diabetes that converts a patient’s liver cells into insulin-producing cells.  Their goal is bold:  “The end of diabetes as we know it.”

The treatment is meant as an alternative to islet transplantation, which bears risk of transplant rejection, among other problems.  In other words, instead of removing beta cells from the pancreas and introducing them into the liver, Orgenesis aims to prompt mature liver cells to reprogram themselves into insulin-producing beta cells. This is part of a new wave of development called “autologous cell replacement” that converts existing tissue into an alternate organ, or “stem-like cells.”

Islet transplantation is the current best practice when pancreatitis patients have their pancreas removed in order to allow the liver to produce insulin.  A safer, more effective means of doing so would be a welcome development.  The firm recently secured a $3 million funding round, which will hopefully enable it to continue or even accelerate its work.

Here is their introductory video: