Defymed and Semma Therapeutics inked a collaboration focused on combining Defymed’s bioartificial pancreas, MAILPAN® (MAcro-encapsulation of PANcreatic Islets), with Semma’s stem cell-derived differentiated insulin-secreting cells, for treating type 1 diabetes. The partners aim to carry out preclinical validation to demonstrate effectiveness and safety of the device in vitro, and in an animal model.

MAILPAN is effectively a biocompatible, polymer pouch comprising semi-permeable membranes, and containing encapsulated pancreatic cells. The cells receive nutrients and oxygen, and can deliver insulin to the body, but are isolated from immune system’s cells and antibodies, which the firms claim negates the need for immunosuppressants.

“Semma Therapeutics’ expertise could represent a major new source for cells usable in our medical device,” said Séverine Sigrist, Ph.D., founding president and scientific director of Defymed. “It is vital in Defymed’s strategy to validate our medical device with what are currently the most promising cells. We believe the approach developed by Semma is the most advanced worldwide.”

In July, Defymed was awarded up to $500,000 by the JDRF to progress preclinical studies with MAILPAN. More recently, in October, the firm teamed up with molecular biomimetics specialist, Symbiose Biomaterials, for a project designated CODEPI, which aims to develop an antimicrobial peptide compress that can be used for skin disinfectation, and also during filling and emptying of the MAILPAN bioartificial pancreas.

Semma Therapeutics is focused on the development of cell-based therapies for diabetes. In September, the firm received a $5 million grant from California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to develop a personalized cell therapy for diabetes based on generating stem cell-derived pancreatic islets from diabetic patients’ own cells.