Medical innovation for diabetes by Lebanon's Benta

Benta Pharma Industries (BPI), a local manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, has achieved promising results of an innovation it’s working on with Vanderbilt and Harvard universities.

The innovation enables the implantation of a human pancreas inside a human body without the need for immunosuppressive therapy, which makes the body less likely to reject the transplanted organ.

“Implanting subcutaneous human pancreas technology has been available for a long time, but Benta’s innovation is implantation without any need for immunosuppressive drugs,” said Bernard Tannoury, Chairman.

Benta’s efforts center on the reduction of external insulin and the elimination of immunosuppressive drugs for patients with diabetes, with the goal of eventually eradicating the disease. It conducted experiments and studies on animals in its laboratories as well as in the US.

“We have received approval for conducting clinical trials on humans,” Tannoury said.

BPI has been working on the innovation for five years. “More than $10 million were allocated for developing the product between Lebanon and US,” said Tannoury.

The donation of the human pancreas for the clinical trials is being supervised by the National Organization for Organ and Tissues Donation and Transplantation (NOD-LB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health.

The clinical trial on human will take one-year-and-a-half to be completed. Additional time will be needed before the product is commercially ready. “We aim to market the product globally,” Tannoury said.

The pilot clinical trials on diabetes will be the first to be conducted locally and in the Arab region. It will be steered by the company's biotechnology division, in cooperation with doctors and researchers in the field of endocrinology, diabetes, applied sciences and Encapsulife, an American company based in the United States.