HAMILTON, ON, Nov. 4, 2021 – Exactly a century ago on November 10, 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles Best conducted their first successful experiments with insulin to treat animals with diabetes.
Banting and Best had discovered insulin in a tiny lab in Toronto earlier that year. That discovery turned diabetes from a death sentence into a chronic condition and saved millions of people from an early death.
A hundred years later, a Hamilton, Ontario company, Allarta Life Science, is working not just to forestall diabetes the way insulin does, but to create a functional cure through cell-based therapies.
That work comes not a moment too soon. Diabetes today is truly an epidemic. It now affects more than 34 million Americans (or 10.5% of the US population) and, in the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled. In Canada, diabetes affects 11 million Canadians (or one in three). In Toronto, there are some neighbourhoods where 14% of adults have diabetes, which attacks certain ethnicities more than others. For example, in Toronto the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes is double in Black communities and triple in South Asian and First Nations communities, compared to white Canadians.
Globally, the third highest risk factor for premature death, after tobacco use and high blood pressure, is high blood sugar.
Allarta is achieving breakthroughs on the road to curing diabetes by using cell-based therapies. Some of the most deadly diseases of our time like diabetes, hemophilia, and rare incurable gene disorders, are caused by the patient’s cells not doing what they’re supposed to do.
Cell-based therapies introduce healthy new curative cells that do the work the body requires, such as producing insulin for diabetes. Once introduced, they can provide much-needed medicine on demand, and perhaps forever. This can make having to live with chronic diseases and their ceaseless daily disciplines, titrations, and life-threats a thing of the past, the way polio and measles are today.
Cell-based therapies are in their early stages, and because they are new, there are still many challenges, from making effective cells, to preventing their rejection via the immune system. That said, they are one of the most promising disciplines in modern science and medicine.
Allarta is making extraordinary progress in this complex field.
Pre-Clinically it has:
- Invented a cloaking device at the cellular level. These are proprietary, immune-evasive capsules that protect transplanted therapeutic cells from their fiercest adversaries, the human immune system.
- Produced testing capsules in 30 minutes. The industry standard is 2 days. Speed is of the essence here to enhance cell survival and manufacturing scale-up.
- Begun testing the capsules on rodent models for diabetes. These diabetic mice have remained alive and well for more than 21 weeks now, which is comparable to other leading labs in the world.
- Plans to continue its pre-clinical work to prove efficacy in larger animals in early 2022.
Financially, Allarta has:
Raised pre-seed funding from private investors Mark Krembil, Ian Delaney. and McMaster University. The company plans to raise a Series A in 2022.
Allarta was co-founded in 2019 by McMaster Chemistry Professor Dr. Harald Stover who is one of the world’s most respected researchers in micro/nanoparticle development and biologics delivery; and by Maria Antonakos, MBA, who trained as a singer, has spent many years raising money for mission-led organizations, most recently the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics as senior advisor of philanthropy. She has devoted her career to building strategic partnerships and diverse teams.
Allarta Life Science Inc. is a pre-clinical life science company based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, developing next generation biomaterials for immune-privileged delivery of cells, stem cells and biologics. Allarta’s platform technology is founded on 30 years of foundational research in polymer science from the academic lab of Dr. Harald Stover. It aims to commercialize global cell-based therapies for chronic endocrine disorders such as Diabetes, Hemophilia and Lysosomal Storage Disorders.