Beta-Cell is a spinout from the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and carries out pioneering research into an effective cure for diabetes (insulin-dependent type 1). Hitherto, it has only been possible to treat diabetes with insulin injections.
Beta-Cell is developing a unique cell therapy with huge potential. This therapy, BetaGraft, can replace lost ß cells – the cells that produce insulin – and take over their function. Pancreatic cell grafts in diabetes patients are transplanted to grow into a full-blown source of biologically regulated insulin production. Since there is almost no human transplant material available, the cells are prepared from pig pancreases. In pre-clinical animal models, BetaGraft is delivering much better results than transplant trials using human cells.
A cure for diabetes would be a milestone in the history of medicine. It is estimated that there were 415 million diabetes patients in 2015 and this number is likely to increase to 640 million by 2040.
The technology is currently in a pre-clinical phase. The first human clinical trials are expected to be rolled out around 2021 with a view to taking BetaGraft to market in 2024/25.
Group Machiels has a significant holding in this promising company with its major social benefit. Beta-Cell is based in BioVille on the university campus in Diepenbeek.