Discoveries in the Lab May Lead to New Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

InteliSpark client, Senseion, LLC., wins a competitive research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research a possible, new treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Around 90 to 95% of Americans with the disease have type 2 diabetes which puts them at high-risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, going blind, and losing toes, feet, or legs. Type 2 diabetes is also incredibly costly for millions of families and the U.S. health care system.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that occurs when either the body does not make enough insulin or resists the effects of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps keep glucose, as known as blood sugar, levels from getting too high or too low. Lack of or inefficient use of insulin, therefore, causes blood sugar levels that are too high.

A research team, led by Dr. Susheel Kumar Gunasekar, has discovered a signaling pathway that regulates both insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion. They have also identified a small molecule modulator that appears to normalize both glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Researchers believe by modulating the signaling, they may develop new drugs to treat the disease.

In phase I of the project, researchers will test the feasibility of this treatment in the lab and will develop an initial class of drugs for further testing, ultimately leading to clinical trials. The hope is to advance into phase II of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding for drug development efforts.

This new drug, based on a unique mechanism for treating type 2 diabetes, could have a profound effect on millions of Americans suffering from the disease.