To develop its “bio-artificial pancreas” for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes, the Defymed Company has formed a partnership with the American Company, Semma, for the supply of stem cells. The cells provided by the Company are “insulin-secreting cells derived from human embryo stem cells”. They are to be used as part of a human clinical trial scheduled to start in 2019.
“This trial will take place in the United States because legislation on stem cell research is more flexible there than in France,” explained Séverine Sigrist, Doctor of Cell Biology and President-Founder of the French company based in Strasbourg.
The bio-artificial pancreas, Mailpan, is a pouch “to be implanted in the abdomen of diabetic patients” during a short surgical procedure. “Insulin-secreting cells will be placed in this pouch in order to restore the virtually natural regulation of sugar levels in the blood of those affected, thus dispensing with the need for patients to inject themselves with insulin on a daily basis”. The semi-permeable membrane of the device allows glucose, nutrients, oxygen and insulin to pass through but remains “impermeable to the immune system in order to prevent the implanted cells from being rejected”.
According to Ms. Sigrist, if “the device works, the challenge from now on is to test its reliability by ‘filling’ it with cells capable of secreting insulin”.
 Human embryo stem cells obtained from human embryos, which are destroyed for research purposes.