Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) is licensing patented definitive endoderm differentiation technology from ViaCyte, a stem cell company focused on diabetes therapy. CDI will apply this methodology in the development and production of iCell® hepatocytes, iPSC-derived liver cells. Separately, CDI has agreed to supply iPSC lines to ViaCyte.
ViaCyte's technology covers cell cultures containing specific amounts of definitive endoderm. Definitive endoderm gives rise to organs and tissues such as the liver, pancreas, lung, intestine, thymus, and thyroid.
"ViaCyte has developed and filed patents on useful methodologies for differentiating into definitive endoderm, which is the normal intermediate in the subsequent manufacturing of hepatocytes," says Nick Seay, CTO of CDI. "The right to incorporate this technology into our industrial pipeline assures our pharmaceutical customers that they will receive hepatocytes in the quantity, quality, and purity that they require.
“In addition, this brings us a step closer toward developing hepatocyte line extensions including panels with multiple iPSC starting materials. This step enables our customers to compare responses of tissue cells based on genetic diversity."
ViaCyte will leverage CDI's human iPSC-derived cells in the generation of pancreatic beta cells, says John West, CEO of the firm. Its therapy is based on pancreatic beta cell progenitors (Pro-Islet™) derived from human pluripotent stem cells.
These cells are implanted using a durable and retrievable encapsulation device, ViaCyte explains. Once implanted and matured, the cells secrete insulin in response to blood glucose levels. The company's goal is long-term insulin independence without immune suppression and without hypoglycemia and other diabetes-related complications.