Modern medicine has largely rid the world of some of the most widespread problems society has faced — smallpox, polio and the measles, to name a few. However, there are still some killers for which doctors haven’t found an answer.

With INSULETE’s new patent, however, the third-largest killer in the United States may be on its way out the door.

The targeted disease is Type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition in which damaged pancreatic cells are unable to produce insulin. Insulin is needed to move simple sugars in the body from the bloodstream to the cells, where they can be used for energy.

Dr. Hans Sollinger, the world’s leading pancreatic transplant surgeon and founder of Madison-based INSULETE, has created a gene therapy technique that can transform liver cells into insulin-producing cells. The company was profiled as part of a new business series done this fall by UW-Madison students.

The therapy is the first of its type around the world and could one day be a cure for the disease with which 1.5 million Americans live.

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