Beta-O2 is developing the ßAir Bio-artificial Pancreas, intended to cure Type 1 diabetes (TID). According to the JDRF, as many as 3 million Americans may have T1D.
Patients with TID are unable to produce insulin, a hormone needed to transport sugar into cells, providing the energy needed for daily life. ßAir provides a viable and safe environment for islets of Langerhans (insulin producing beta cells), to thrive and provide the body with insulin on demand. It is able to do so, as Beta-O2 has solved the major challenges of islet transplantation – creating a protective environment where the cells can thrive but where the patient doesn’t need to take life-long immunosuppression drugs with unpleasant side effects, and of crucial importance, keeping the cells alive and functioning inside the recipient’s body.
As for the first issue, ßAir effectively protects the islet cells from the body’s immune system, and without the use of immunosuppressive drugs. In fact, ßAir’s immune-protection is so efficient that it can be used to safely house cells from any source: human donors, animals (pigs) or stem cell derived. This widens treatment possibilities to any hormone secreting cell.
Regarding the second: as islet cells are some of the most oxygen consuming cells in the human body, the challenge here centered on how to provide these cells with the required oxygen to thrive and whenever needed. Though others successfully created immune protection environments, unlike Beta-O2, they failed in the challenge of creating a practical solution to the oxygen issue. Beta-O2’s ßAir provides an ample and readily available oxygen supply. Patients need only to inject oxygen into the device once daily.
The company is currently testing human donor derived cells in a Phase I safety study of the ßAir Bio-artificial Pancreas for type 1 diabetes patients at Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden. Thus far four patients have been implanted with the device. This study is partially funded by the JDRF.
Beta-O2 is also pre-clinically testing the ßAir Bio-artificial Adrenal as a treatment for stress disorders. Results of some recent studies demonstrating the device’s xenotransplantation potential were published in a February issue of PNAS.
Beta-O2 Technologies Ltd. is a privately held company. It was founded in 2004 and is located in Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel, near Tel-Aviv.