News Feature | August 26, 2014

ViaCyte And Janssen R&D Ink Rights Agreement For Diabetes Drug

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Privately-held regenerative medicine firm ViaCyte announced that it has signed into a Rights Agreement with Janssen Research & Development LLC (Janssen), for ViaCyte’s VC-01 combo product for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes.

VC-01 is comprised of PEC-01 cells, which are pancreatic progenitor cells derived from human embryonic stem cell line and encapsulated in the company’s proprietary Encaptra device. Once implanted under the skin, the PEC-01 cells are designed to mature and transform into endocrine cells and insulin-producing beta cells that regulate blood glucose similar to the islets that make up the endocrine pancreas. The product’s Investigational New Drug application has been recently received by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which allowed the launch of a clinical evaluation of the product in patients with Type 1 diabetes.  

Under the terms of the agreement, Janssen gains the future right to assess a transaction related to VC-01, which will continue during the initial investigation of the product’s clinical efficacy. The agreement follows on the footsteps of a $20 million payment from Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC) that included a rights fee and a convertible note eligible as equity at a future date. The company also announced an earlier round of private equity financing transaction that yielded an additional $5.4 million through the sale of stocks.

The company said it will use the funding to further develop its stem cell derived islet replacement therapy for insulin-dependent diabetes. “These important transactions provide us with additional resources we need to pursue the further development of the VC-01 product candidate as a potential new treatment option for patients with type 1 diabetes. We are pleased to be extending our relationship with Janssen and JJDC in this area of mutual interest,” said Dr. Paul Laikind, President and CEO of ViaCyte.