Leti and Eight Partners in BIOCAPAN Project Working On Diabetes Treatment that Replaces Insulin Injections

GRENOBLE, France – July 7, 2015 – An international research consortium coordinated by CEA-Leti announced the launch of BIOCAPAN [1], a research project funded by the European Commission aiming at developing an innovative GMP-grade (good manufacturing practices) cell-therapy product to treat diabetes without insulin injections.

The key therapeutic issue in diabetes mellitus types 1 and 2 is glycaemic control. Reductions of continuous self-monitoring and – insulin injections – often associated with long-term complications would tremendously improve the quality of diabetics’ lives. A promising therapeutic option consists of transplanting allogeneic islet cells, but the current state of the art limits the applicability of this approach.

Implanting unprotected grafts requires lifelong administration of immunosuppressants. Moreover, protecting the cells against adverse immune reactions by current encapsulation strategies reduces their functionality and survival to an extent that makes frequent “refresher” implantations necessary. Although encapsulated islets survival has been demonstrated for up to three years, insulin-independence has been shown in one patient for a maximum of only nine months.

Coordinated by Leti, the BIOCAPAN Project brings together a multi-disciplinary international team of experts to develop an innovative treatment based on implanting allogeneic islet cells embedded in complex bioactive microcapsules that maximize the long-term functionality and survival of pancreatic islets. The project’s goal is a two-year, insulin-injection-free treatment, without immunosuppressants, which would greatly benefit insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients. This treatment would be appropriate for all type 1 and about one in six type 2 diabetes mellitus patients – about 80 million people worldwide.

BIOCAPAN, which stands for BIOactive implantable Capsule for PANcreatic islet immunosuppression free therapy, is supported by the Horizon 2020 Programme, the largest-ever EU research and innovation program.

In addition to CEA-Leti (FR), the four-year, €8 million project brings together nine partners from five EU countries and the U.S.:

- Université Catholique de Louvain (BE)

- Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin (DE)

- NovaMatrix (NO)

- NanoImmunotech (ES)

- Université Joseph Fourier (FR)

- Etablissement Français du Sang (FR)

- European Research Services GmbH (DE)

- Wake Forest University Health Sciences (US)


About Leti (France)

As one of three advanced-research institutes within the CEA Technological Research Division, Leti serves as a bridge between basic research and production of micro- and nanotechnologies that improve the lives of people around the world. It is committed to creating innovation and transferring it to industry. Backed by its portfolio of 2,800 patents, Leti partners with large industrials, SMEs and startups to tailor advanced solutions that strengthen their competitive positions. It has launched 54 startups. Its 8,500m² of new-generation cleanroom space feature 200mm and 300mm wafer processing of micro and nano solutions for applications ranging from space to smart devices. With a staff of more than 1,800, Leti is based in Grenoble, France, and has offices in Silicon Valley, Calif., and Tokyo. Follow us on www.leti.fr and @CEA_Leti.


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[1] This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 646272.

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