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Johnson & Johnson, ViaCyte testing possible diabetes cure

Published:Friday | February 5, 2016 | 2:00 AM
This photo, provided by ViaCyte, shows the Encaptra delivery system, placed next to a quarter to give a size perspective.

UNITED STATES (AP):

Johnson & Johnson, continuing its long quest for a type 1 diabetes cure, is joining forces with biotech company ViaCyte to speed up development of the first stem cell treatment that could cure the life-threatening hormonal disorder.

They've already begun testing it in a small number of diabetic patients, a first. If it works as well in patients as it has in animals, it would amount to a cure, ending the need for frequent insulin injections and blood sugar testing.

The companies have agreed to combine patents covering their research under ViaCyte.

Their therapy involves inducing embryonic stem cells to turn into insulin-producing cells while inside a small capsule that is implanted under the skin. The capsule protects the cells from the immune system, which otherwise would attack them as invaders.