While we're on the topic of diabetes technologies and advancements this week, I'd like to share what I've learned about two more companies working on some alluring diabetes innovations.
DiaSome Pharmaceuticals, located in Conshohoken, PA, is developing a "proprietary nanotechnology cell-receptor targeting system" designed to deliver insulin to the hepatocyte cells in the liver via both oral and injectable drug routes. According to their documentation, "the site-specific targetting of insulin essentially restores 'normal physiology' to the liver, allowing for improved glucose regulation in diabetic patients."
DiaSome's calls its system HDV-Insulin: "a nano-sized carrier for all commercially available insulins."
Their main product at the moment is an oral version (Oral HDV-Insulin), which is a low-dose, short-acting insulin delivered in a pill or capsule form for use in Type 2 diabetics. At only 20-50 nanometers, the particles are small enough to "cross membrane barriers" in the body, and "avoid enzymatic degradation."
Whoa, that's small! Keep in mind that a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter — or about one-billionth of a yard, or 25 millionths of an inch. This is approaching the size of an atom, and 3-10 atoms end-to-end are about one nanometer long!
So how fast is this tiny technology coming to market? According to their most recent press release, DiaSome already completed Phase 2 talks with the FDA last year, and is working on more long-term human trials this year. I guess something this new takes a lot of painstaking research. All I keep thinking is: Monsanto at Disney. Who remembers riding under that gigantic eye?
Meanwhile, GluMetrics out of Irvine, CA, is utilizing futuristic technology to tackle an altogether different diabetes problem. Tom Peyser, the company's VP of Clinical Affairs, who has a daughter with Type 1 diabetes, explains that the company's founders had become "very concerned about uncontrolled blood sugars in patients undergoing surgery in the hospital setting." Heart surgery patients were often running in the 400s. "Between one-third and one-half of the patients had diabetes, and they did very poorly post-surgery compared to other patients." The mortality rate was unacceptably high and they were often in for serious complications, like major infections, following surgery.
Clearly this was — and is — a problem in search of a solution. I've personally heard many horror stories of diabetics' losing glucose control while hospitalized. The idea of going under anesthesia and allowing some hospital staff to take over my BG control scares the BG-outta-me, if you know what I mean.
Peyser tells me that the current focus on tight glucose control in the intensive care unit (ICU) came about when a group of Belgian researchers discovered that heart patients in a surgical ICU receiving insulin intravenously (through their IV hookup) fared better, whether they actually had diabetes or not.
"There needed to be a concerted effort to control blood glucose in the hospital, but there were no good tools to do that," he says. "CGMs based on interstitial fluid were not good enough, not immediate enough, and since patients in the ICU already have intravenous lines running, we can measure blood that way."
GluMetrics' solution is called GluCathâ„¢, a "single-use, disposable system, inserted into the venous periphery, which will communicate with a dedicated monitor allowing the real-time, direct monitoring of blood glucose for up to 48 continuous hours."
Interestingly, its core glucose sensing technology is based on a unique fluorescent chemistry developed at UC Santa Cruz and extended by GluMetrics: "boronic acid-based polymeric material that is capable of detecting and measuring the blood glucose level of diabetics and other hospitalized patients in a way that will enable clinicians to monitor blood sugar control more closely and accurately than has ever been possible previously."
Sounds good. GluMetrics is "just on verge of human trials" which will probably begin with feasibility studies in patients who are not critically ill, for obvious reasons. But the technology will eventually be applicable to any inpatient surgery — even that knee surgery you might have been putting off. Nice to know the physicians will soon have the tools they need to keep your BG in check while they're cutting and pasting.
Speaking of diabetes innovations, I just have to ask: Who saw Oramed's newest: insulin suppositories? Because the company wants diabetics to "be able to receive insulin in the form which is most suitable to their lifestyle and/or age." Anyone else wondering what their target group is here?!