The biotech company reports that a novel peptide drug candidate for the treatment of diabetes and protection of beta cells has been selected.
The drug candidate has shown effects in both in vitro and in vivo-models, including diabetes-related complications. The drug will now be tested in a preclinical program prior to upcoming clinical trials. The choice of drug candidate represents a significant milestone for both Follicum and for the diabetes project which is part of a large collaborative diabetes network called LUDC-IRC at Lund University supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.
“We are delighted to be able to select a drug candidate in the diabetes project. Several of our peptides exhibit good effects in initial studies. The peptides show different profiles between them, with effects on different types of diabetes-related complications. We now intend to evaluate this further in parallel with the preclinical development of the chosen drug candidate, not least because potential partners for the project have shown interest in the different types of complications,” says Jan Alenfall, CEO, Follicum.
Stabilizing blood sugar levels
Follicum’s peptides have shown a positive effect on insulin release, an effect that is more pronounced at higher blood sugar levels. Thus, the peptides could contribute to stabilizing blood sugar levels, i.e. exactly mirroring the aim with diabetes treatment. In addition to high blood sugar levels, presence of inflammatory factors is normal in diabetic patients, which, among other things, leads to a deterioration of insulin-producing beta cell function. In addition to the effects on insulin release, Follicum’s peptides have been shown to protect the beta cells when they are exposed to high sugar levels or inflammatory factors. If the function of the body’s own beta cells can be maintained, the ability of the diabetic patient to control blood sugar levels increases, and thereby, the risk of complications decreases. Additionally, the company also studies the direct effects of the peptides on various diabetes-related complications.
The company has now chosen the most promising drug candidate for further development, initially in preclinical development by running further safety and efficacy studies of safety. Based on the results of the preclinical program, the company will start the planning of a clinical phase I study in 2020. In addition to the selected drug candidate, three “follow-up” candidates have also been selected. These exhibit individual effect profiles that differ from the main candidate and they will be evaluated in parallel for treatment of other complications than those targeted by the main drug candidate.