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Intrexon Spin-Off Developing Type 1 Diabetes Therapy

Diabetes items

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

4 April 2016. A new subsidiary of the synthetic biology company Intrexon Corp. is creating a pill for people with type 1 diabetes to stop the disease’s damage in its early stages. The enterprise, known as Intrexon T1D Partners LLC, is a joint venture between Intrexon, in Germantown, Maryland, and White Rock Capital Partners a New York investment bank providing an initial $10 million investment.

Type 1 diabetes is an inherited autoimmune disorder where the body does not produce insulin, and is diagnosed primarily in children or young adults. Autoimmune disorders are conditions where the immune system is tricked into attacking healthy cells and tissue as if they were foreign invaders, in this case, insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. About 1.25 million people in the U.S. have type 1 diabetes.

Once type 1 diabetes develops, people with the disorder need to regularly test for blood glucose levels and inject insulin to manage their condition. Intrexon T1D Partners plans to apply Intrexon’s technology, called ActoBiotics, to develop an oral treatment for type 1 diabetes. This pill would harness the immune system to prevent damage to beta cells in early stages of the disease, or to prevent the need for external insulin therapy.

Intrexon develops genetically engineered products for the pharmaceutical, food, energy, environmental, and consumer markets. The company operates several technologies derived from computational models and software that assemble DNA-based solutions on a commercial scale. The ActoBiotics platform creates engineered food-grade bacteria, known as Lactococcus lactis, similar to those found in yogurt, to deliver protein therapeutics into the gut, which would otherwise degrade in the gastrointestinal tract.

In 2014, a research team in Belgium tested delivery of a type-1 diabetes antigen and the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-10, with engineered Lactococcus lactis bacteria into non-obese mice newly induced to express diabetes.  The study in this case used an oral drug that targeted gut-associated lymphoid tissue in the mice, the largest immune system in the body. The results show the treatments generated regulatory T cells in the mice, which stabilized inflammation and preserved beta cells in the pancreas, and restored normal blood glucose levels.

The deal with White Rock Capital Partners gives Intrexon a 50 percent interest in T1D Partners. Intrexon calls this type of agreement an exclusive channel collaboration that gives the partner companies an exclusive license to develop new products from Intrexon technologies, move those products through regulatory processes, and conduct marketing and sales.

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