CHICAGO (Reuters) - Drugmakers are working on experimental diabetes drugs using a novel mechanism to help flush excess blood sugar out of the body, according to results of small studies presented at a medical meeting on Sunday.
Bristol-Myers Squibb hopes their drug, known as dapagliflozin, will be the first in a new class that seeks to block the reabsorption of glucose to lower elevated blood sugar levels in diabetics. GlaxoSmithKline Plc is also working on a drug using the same concept.
The drugs, known as SGLT-2, or sodium glucose uptake transporter 2 inhibitors, work by overriding the kidney’s normal inclination to reabsorb excess glucose from the body rather than excreting it.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the pancreas is unable to produce enough of or properly use the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar. The drugs treat type II diabetes — the most common form of the disease that afflicts about 180 million people worldwide.
If uncontrolled, serious complications of diabetes include damage to eyesight, the kidneys and limb amputation. About 13,000 doctors and researchers are gathering at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting in Chicago to discuss treatment options.
Bristol’s 47-patient trial found that the drug helped improve fasting glucose values over 14 days. Patients received one of three different doses alone or with the oral generic medication metformin.
Two side effects were of “clinical interest” in the study, according to lead investigator Bernard Komoroski, a researcher at Bristol-Myers.
Two patients had hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar and two patients developed vaginal infections, he said.
“It’s just something for us to keep our eye on,” he said.
Bristol is developing the drug with British drugmaker AstraZeneca The companies expect to start the final phase of testing before requesting regulatory approval this year.
New data was also presented on GlaxoSmithKline’s investigational SGLT-2 inhibitor, called sergliflozin.
The drug was found to decrease glucose concentrations in plasma in two studies of 14 healthy and eight diabetic patients. The most common adverse side effects in healthy patients were headache and sore throat. Among diabetic patients, the most common side effects were headache and stomach ailments.
Additional reporting by Ransdell Pierson in New York