Israeli diabetes treatment developer Betalin Therapeutics has raised $2.5 million from leading venture capital funds and private investors for its revolutionary treatment, which would replace insulin therapy. The company is also in talks with a Chinese pharmaceutical entity and hopes to enter the Chinese market.
Jerusalem-based Betalin Therapeutics provides a solution to treat diabetes with a one-time transplant of the proprietary Engineered Micro Pancreas (EMP). This is a biologically derived structure combined with insulin-expressing cells, which ensures continuous glucose-related insulin secretion as well as longevity and viability of transplanted cells, which reduces the need for repeated transplants. The procedure is simple and allows mass implementation.
Founded in 2015, Betalin’s technology was developed by Prof. Eduardo Mitrani of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Science. The theory behind this technology is that cells need to be in contact with a supportive tissue, a kind of scaffold which will mimic the extracellular matrix surrounding the cells in our body.
Prof Mitrani explains, “Rather than make cells, we are creating an organ, a self-contained unit that functions autonomously and can be placed virtually anywhere in the body.”
EMP is transplanted into the body of a diabetic patient to generate insulin in response to the body’s need, as a healthily functioning pancreas would. This eliminates the needs for insulin shots and pumps, as it addresses the root problem and not the symptoms, potentially revolutionizing insulin treatment worldwide. The difference between a regular pump and EMP is that its pure biological organ that composed of a scaffold which acts as a supportive tissue and cells that knows how to sense glucose levels and secrete insulin as needed.
One of the main issues in the organ transplantation field is transplant rejection by the immune system of the patients. Today, patients have to use immunosuppressive drugs after transplantation, that have many side effects. To address this issue, Betalin Therapeutics is signing a licensing agreement with the Hebrew University to initiate use of cannabis extracted molecules together with the EMP transplant. Cannabis will act as an immunomodulatory, which ensures the transplant will not be rejected by the immune system. This will guarantee that the life-saving transplant is received by the immune system and will limit the patient’s need for immunosuppressive drugs.