Zucara Reveals Hopeful Preclinical Data in Type 1 Diabetes
Diabetes-focused life sciences company Zucara Therapeutics released preclinical findings on a daily therapy to slow and prevent plummeting blood glucose levels in Type 1 diabetes patients. The results were published in the peer-reviewed journal, Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism. Dubbed ZT-01, it could in theory restore the body's ability to release glucagon, an essential component of blood glucose level regulation.
Zucara, along with Michael C. Riddell of York University and the lab of Owen Chan (the paper’s lead author) at the University of Utah collaborated to document the preclinical journey of the drug and demonstrated encouraging proof of its effectiveness.
ZT-01 works by preventing somatostatin from fulfilling its role as a glucagon inhibitor. It does this by blocking the pancreatic hormone from binding to certain receptors. Normally, in binding to those receptors, somatostatin would inhibit channels that are essential in glucagon secretion. ZT-01 does not have the same effect when bound to the receptors, so glucagon secretion can continue uninhibited.
Therefore, by preventing somatostatin from interfering with glucagon secretion, the researchers reported that ZT-01 reduces hypoglycemia in rats with T1D. Additionally, it appeared to do so better than its predecessor PRL-2903. ZT-01 performed superiorly to PRL-2903 on a number of counts. It staved off hypoglycemia for over an hour in the rats, while PRL-2903 held out only ten minutes. Additionally, the test subjects’ blood glucose levels did not drop as severely when administered ZT-01.
Zucara Chief Scientific Officer Richard Liggins could not be happier with the findings:
"We are thrilled with the positive results of this preclinical study, whose efficacy portion employed a similar methodology to that of our ongoing Phase Ib clinical trial," he said. "This study demonstrated that ZT-01 significantly increased glucagon secretion in rats with T1D, and reduced the frequency and severity of hypoglycemia, suggesting ZT-01's potential to reduce hypoglycemia exposure in humans with T1D."
Reducing hypoglycemia exposure helps mitigate the elevated risk of heart disease associated with Type I Diabetes.
Zucara further explains how its research benefits those suffering from diabetes and how it compares to other treatments, stating that its method “offers a clear advantage as a preventative measure whereas current drug therapies can only rescue a person already experiencing potentially dangerous low blood sugar.”
According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 422 million people living with diabetes worldwide, and the global agency projects that the disease will be the seventh leading cause of death in 2030. The main goal of insulin therapy in the treatment of diabetes is to control hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), but Zucara notes that this is challenging because of the threat of acute and potentially life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which the company says is the most significant side effect of insulin therapy.
With these promising results behind it, Zucara will continue its Phase Ib proof-of-concept clinical trial in people with T1D. The company expects to publish the findings from that study in Q2 2022.