University Hospital Zurich (USZ)

The USZ is the largest of the five University Hospitals in Switzerland, and provides fundamental medical care as well as cutting-edge medicine. With 7,800 employees from 87 different countries, including 1,400 doctors and 2,500 highly trained nurses, the USZ treats around 41,000 inpatients and over 500,000 outpatients at the 44 departments and institutes.

Within the USZ, the Clinic for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Clinical Nutrition is responsible for the care of patients with endocrine disorders, diabetes mellitus, overweight/obesity and rare metabolic diseases. In the context of diabetes, the division is specialized in insulin pumps, glucose sensors and in particular the sensor-augmented insulin pump treatment. The Islet Transplantation and Diabetes department offers a wide range of treatments, including pancreas and islet transplant together with the appropriate preoperative assessment, the transplantation itself, and careful post-operative follow-up. This team consists of clinical and scientific endocrinologists/diabetologists, diabetes counsellors, nutritionist and lab technicians.

In this inspiring environment, our team from the human clinical islet cell transplantation together with Dr. Kugelmeier (Kugelmeiers AG) discovered during our studies, that large islet size promotes hypoxic damage and subsequent transplant loss (Lehmann et al., Diabetes 2007). However, in a next step they demonstrated that islets can be dissociated into single cells and reaggregated into so-called “pseudoislets” of defined sizes in specially designed microwells (unpublished data). During these studies, they developed at our Research Laboratories clinically relevant plates enabling a first step into scalable cluster formation in stem cell quality to scale up the cells for subsequent transplantation from bench to bedside. The appropriate detailed characterization of such “pseudoislets” under different conditions is currently ongoing in our Research Labs.

Betalin Therapeutics is focused on the development of the proprietary Micro Pancreas technological platform that, in the future, will provide a solution to treat diabetes with an implantation under the skin (by injection) restoring natural insulin production and blood glucose regulation. Currently, the company plans to offer its cutting-edge micro organ technology and expertise tailored to meet the global requirements of developing more physiological models of human diseases and organ in a dish in order to accelerate drug discovery and development. Betalin’s solid foundation of highly skilled of multidisciplinary experienced team led the company to its current achievements. The Betalin Therapeutics team of leading experts in the fields of diabetes and biotechnology development are based at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical Center campus where Micro Pancreas technology was first discovered.

Betalin Therapeutics’ development of the EMP, including collaborations with leading institutions: 

  1. Lung-Derived Microscaffolds Facilitate Diabetes Reversal after Mouse and Human Intraperitoneal Islet Transplantation, Abualhassan Nasser, Sapozhnikov Lena, Pawlick Rena L, Kahana Meygal, Pepper Andrew R, Bruni Antonio, Gala-Lopez Boris, Kin Tatsuya, Mitrani Eduardo, Shapiro A.M. James, PLoS ONE, 2016, 11(5)
  2. Beta Cells Secrete Significant and Regulated Levels of Insulin for Long Periods when Seeded onto Acellular Micro-Scaffolds, Sionov Ronit Vogt, Finesilver Gershon, Sapozhnikov Lena, Soroker Avigail, Zlotkin-Rivkin Efrat, Saad Yocheved, Kahana Meygal, Bodaker Matan, Alpert Evgenia, and Mitrani Eduardo. Tissue Engineering Part A. November 2015, 21(21-22): 2691-2702.

Organ-Specific Scaffolds for In Vitro Expansion, Differentiation, and Organization of Primary Lung Cells, Yulia Shamis, Eilat Hasson, Avigail Soroker, Elad Bassat, Yael Shimoni, Tamar Ziv, Ronit Vogt Sionov, and Eduardo Mitrani. Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods. July 2011, 17(8): 861-870.