Adelaide researchers are recruiting volunteers to test “an operation in a pill” — a tablet to put type 2 diabetes into remission.
Described as the Holy Grail of diabetes research, the pill will be tested on 64 healthy adult volunteers at CMAX in the CBD.
The program is now seeking volunteers — who do not have diabetes — in the phase 1 human trials to test how well it is tolerated and help find the ideal dose.
It has already been tested on animals, and after the phase one human trials the study will move to using it on people with type 2 diabetes.
Around one million Australians are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes but there are an estimated 500,000 more who are undiagnosed. Worldwide there are an estimated 500 million.
Glyscend Therapeutics, an Adelaide-Baltimore biotech company, has developed the GLY-200 pill with $29m in support from Australian life science investor Brandon Capital’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and international medical research investor Santé Ventures, with support from Breakout Labs owned by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.
Principal investigator, gastroenterologist Professor Chris Rayner of the University of Adelaide and Royal Adelaide Hospital, said the pill has a polymer which binds to the mucus layer of the upper gut creating a change that mimics gastric bypass surgery.
People with type 2 diabetes who had such surgery for weight problems had the unexpected side effect of improvement in their diabetes as it diverted food from the upper gastrointestinal track.
This has lead to other invasive efforts to control the disease including using a plastic sleeve over the duodenum — the top part of the small intestine — or even burning its lining.
“Gastric bypass surgery at the top of the small intestine, the duodenum, excluded it from the nutrient flow which seems to have a beneficial effect in controlling glucose,” Prof Rayner said.
“We don’t understand it entirely but the idea here is to mimic gastric bypass by using this polymer — it is an operation in a pill. The Holy Grail of controlling type 2 diabetes is to do it with a pill.”
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The effect is not permanent and people would likely to have to pop two pills a day. They would also have to maintain good lifestyle habits rather than seeing the pill as an excuse to return to sugary treats and a sedentary lifestyle.
“We think it could be very useful particularly in the early stages to prevent progression of the disease and its complications,” Prof Rayner said.
Glyscend chief executive Dr Ashish Nimgaonkarand, a gastroenterologist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, believes the pill has the potential to “revolutionise how the disease is treated.”
“Our goal is to develop an oral medication that works locally in the gastrointestinal tract to provide the benefits of gastric bypass surgery while greatly reducing the costs, as well as the potential risks and complications,” he said.
Contact CMAX on 1800 150 433 for information on the trial which is paying $1910 reimbursement.
3 August, 2021