First European study tests pioneering stem cell therapy in people with type 1 diabetes

A group of people with type 1 diabetes have become the first in Europe to receive a pioneering stem cells treatment that could restore blood glucose control.

PEC-Direct islet cell replacement therapy (also known as VC-02) has been designed to replace insulin-producing beta cells in people with type 1 diabetes.

If the approach developed by the company ViaCyte is successful in clinical trials then it could represent an exciting, new treatment for the autoimmune condition in the future.

PEC-Direct is an example of encapsulated islet cells. The treatment involves implanting a pouch of living stem cells under the skin of patients. The pouch is engineered to encourage blood vessels to feed the stem cells to help them develop into islet cells and to them alive.

The living islet cells are able to function similar to a pancreas by releasing insulin in direct response to rises in blood glucose.

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