Pig cell technology to be sold in Russia

New Zealand-based Living Cell Technologies, which is pioneering the development of the world's first pig cell implants to treat diabetes, has won approval to sell its technology in Russia.

Registration of the ground-breaking treatment allows for its sale and use to treat Type 1 diabetes through the firm's Russian subsidiary, LCT Biomedical.

Living Cell, which is now listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, established LCT Biomedical in 2009 to commercially develop DIABECELL in Russia.

CEO Ross McDonald says they hope to be able to start selling the product next year but first have to educate the market on its use.

''This is not a cure and it's important to manage the expectations of patients as part of that market development.''

DIABECELL is the world's first porcine cell implant therapy. Insulin-producing cells are taken from rare Auckland Island pigs the company breeds in a special centre near Invercargill and injected into the pancreas of test subjects that suffer type-1 diabetes.

LCT's Russian clinical trial programme which started in June 2007 on eight diabetic patients showed six of the eight showed long-term improvements in blood glucose control.

This meant they could reduce their required daily dose of insulin injections and two patients, in fact, stopped injections entirely for about eight months.

New Zealand is the second country the company hopes to commercialise the product in. Phase two trials here are expected to be completed early next year and the patients have so far shown fewer complications from their diabetes, most notably a big reduction in potentially fatal seizures.

McDonald says they hope to have DIABECELL on sale in New Zealand and some other jurisdictions such as the US, by 2013.

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