Unique substance may help half a billion diabetes patients

A revolutionary way to combat type 2 diabetes, independent of the insulin pathway

Unique substance may help half a billion diabetes patients

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that is increasing almost epidemically worldwide. Out the 426 million people currently diagnosed with diabetes, 90–95 per cent have diabetes type 2. Furthermore, it is estimated that many more suffer from the disease without being diagnosed. Type 2 diabetes means that the body does not respond properly to insulin, which leads to cardiovascular problems, kidney function problems and an increased risk of amputations and premature death.

New secret substance

“All existing drugs have issues; partly in terms of side effects and, partly, in that their effect decreases over time, which means that in some cases you have to switch to an insulin treatment”, says Tore Bengtsson.

With his team, he has developed a number of substances that stimulate glucose uptake in muscle cells. What the substance is and exactly how it works is a secret.

“The substance has the same effect as insulin and leads to increased sugar uptake in the muscles, and less sugar in the blood.”

Close to clinical trials

The researchers have proven the effect of the substance in diabetic animals and are now moving on from the exploratory phase to the development phase, and gradually approaching the clinical phase:

“We have chosen a few substances to investigate very thoroughly, and we also have a number of backup substances. Within two years, we hope to begin phase 1 of the clinical studies”, says Tore Bengtsson.

Support from Swelife has been fundamental

The funding from Swelife was invaluable, he says:

“The support enabled us to achieve proof of concept, which is fundamental in order to proceed. Furthermore, Swelife’s commitment made more investors dare to step in. From the outset, we really had nothing more than an idea, but along the way we have received several major follow-up investments and now have close to ten employees in Sweden, plus a number of chemists in Latvia working with producing the substances.”

The market for a new, effective and side effect-free drug against type 2 diabetes is huge:

“But the road to it is also long. The initial clinical phase – “first in man” – is quite simple. Phase 2 is more difficult and phase 3 can cost billions. By then, you need to have a major pharmaceutical partner and that, among other things, is what we’re now trying to find.

Updated: 4 October 2017

Text: Jörgen Olsson