Since we tend to be pretty America-centric over here, we wanted to shine a spotlight on the annual conference for the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), which is Europe's equivalent to the American Diabetes Association. EASD is a huge professional org for doctors, researchers, nurses, students, and so on, with 7,000 members — from 110 different countries!
In addition to the annual conference, the EASD also produces their own trade publication, Diabetologia, plus members are divided into small "study groups" that focus on specific issues, like the artificial pancreas, cardiovascular disease, and even diabetes and genetics.
But their big annual conference every fall is what gets the most attention from this side of the pond. 18,000 attendees (bigger than the ADA!) are gathering this week, Sept. 12-16, in Lisbon, Portugal. We are sadly missing out on the fun (though we're certainly keeping busy with our own Diabetes Innovation Summit event coming up!). Luckily, the EASD is making use of social media, so you can follow the conference by following EASD on Twitter or track the Twitter hashtag #easd2011 to keep tabs on what's happening.
Like the American Diabetes Association's Scientific Sessions conference that we reported on in June, most of the corporate announcements so far involve drugs for type 2 diabetes.
* Sanofi-Aventis started off the week with two announcements:
- Insulin has a huge fear factor component for many people with type 2, but Sanofi says it has good news: type 2 diabetics who take Lantus show better blood sugar control and have a comparable weight gain compared with other insulins, oral meds or simply making dietary changes. They noted the weight gain was "least noticeable" when the PWD's A1c was under 8%.
- Sanofi's Lyxumia (lixisenatide), a GLP-1 class drug, had positive results at the end of its GetGoal-L clinical trial, which is one of nine trials in the sweeping GetGoal Phase III clinical program — a huge initiative testing the efficacy and safety of this new drug versus various oral drugs or insulin. Lyxumia was shown to reduce A1c levels when taken once daily alongside a basal insulin, compared to patients who used a placebo add-on with metformin.
* But things might not be looking so hot for the GLP-1 class of drugs on the whole. In July, a paper was published by Dr. Peter Butler of UCLA, linking GLP-1 drugs with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Today, researchers will debate the methodology of the Butler paper, and whether it's accurate or complicated by factors like reporting bias. We'll definitely keep an eye on this and share the outcome when it's available!
* Kelly Close from Close Concerns sent us a note sharing her excitement at hearing potential news about Qnexa, a new anti-obesity drug that has potential for diabetes. Qnexa is a low-dose combination of controlled-release phentermine (yep - the same ingredient in the infamous diet drug fen-phen!) and topiramatean. It was one of three anti-obesity drugs whose FDA application was denied earlier this year, but that doesn't mean California-based developer Vivus is rolling over quietly. The unpronouncable Qnexa is supposed to be safe because it contains only half the amount of phentermine of the earlier drug, combined with an entirely different compound.
Still, the FDA is requiring a further two-year safety study. Vivus is still currently in Phase III clinical trials, but data looks so promising that some doctors are already prescribing generic topiramate. Weight loss drugs are a Holy Grail for many type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes patients, so hopefully some positive news comes out of this soon!
* Amylin, Lilly, and Massachusetts-based Alkermes released the analyses from two trials for Bydureon, the extended-release version of exenatide (aka Byetta). The analyses are positive, showing improvements in certain cardiovascular risks, including weight, blood pressure and blood lipids, compared to patients on other common type 2 drugs. Considering the great concern the FDA has over cardiovascular side effects for diabetes drugs, this is a good sign.
So far, there's very limited news on anything related to type 1 diabetes... mainly because the newest products like the Animas Vibe and the Medtronic Minimed VEO have already been out in Europe for awhile now, but are still stalled stateside at the FDA. *Le sigh*