Tissera signed a one-year extension to its R&D deal with Yeda, the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Prolonged up to April 9, 2008, the agreement represents the fifth consecutive year that the company is conducting research work at the Weizmann Institute.
The main objective of the experiments planned for this additional period is to further advance the ongoing preclinical studies being performed on primate models of type I diabetes mellitus as a preparation for the initiation of human clinical studies on diabetic patients.
Tissera's sponsored team is investigating, in diabetic nonhuman primates, the functional and therapeutic value of its pig embryonic pancreatic tissue transplant approach. In these studies, nonhuman primates are treated by an agent called streptozotocin (STZ) that induces them to become diabetic and consequently dependent upon administration of exogenous insulin. After stabilization, the appropriately timed pancreatic tissue is transplanted into the diabetic primate.
A progressive post-transplantation reduction of the insulin amounts required for maintenance of blood sugar levels and gradual increase of blood insulin levels suggestive of insulin production have been observed. Tissera attributes this to the growing pancreatic graft, though the pig origin of this insulin remains to be verified.
The research team seeks to clarify whether the tendency of reduction of insulin requirements persists over time and whether complete weaning from exogenous insulin dependence can be achieved under an appropriate immune suppression regimen acceptable for human treatment.