LONDON, ONT. -- They’re called cell pouches; an innovative therapeutic device created by London research lab Sernova, for patients with Type 1 diabetes.

"The cell pouch is a device that’s placed deep under the skin and smaller than a business card and can be inserted rapidly," says Philip Toleikis, president and CEO of Sernova. "Over a short period of time it creates these vascularized tissue chambers into which we can put therapeutic cells." 

Once those cells are placed into the device, that’s when the work begins 

"Those cells can then connect up to the blood supply and then can start to read blood-sugar levels and release insulin into the bloodstream naturally, and the idea is to reduce and eliminate the need for insulin injections," says Toleikis.

The cell pouches created by Sernova are part of a phase one clinical trial taking place at the University of Chicago, where so far five Type 1 diabetes patients have been implanted with the device. The initial findings have been promising. 

"The cell therapy has been shown to release insulin and it’s being measured by c-peptide present in the patient's blood," says Delfina Siroen, senior director of research at Sernova. "Also it’s shown a reduction in life threatening hypoglycaemia events or episode that diabetes patient's experience." 

The trial has also shown no incidents of severe adverse events related to the cell pouch insertion. 

Toleikis says this trial brings his team one step closer to helping change the lives of millions of people living with Type 1 diabetes. 

"That means the potential eliminations of all the doctors visits, the elimination of the side effects of diabetes, and moving towards what we call a functional cure."