Ons 21 feb / År 42 / Nr 5 2023

New Concept for Diabetes Treatment

The virtual biotech company Apoglyx in Lund develops a new therapeutic concept for treatment of type 2 diabetes patients with reduced kidney function.

Patients with advanced kidney disease, which is a common complication in diabetes, cannot make proper use of current therapies. Normal kidney function is needed for many of the available therapies to keep risks of side-effects low. Even though diabetes care is individualised, using combinations of pharmaceuticals, the options for this patient group are limited. Still, these patients need effective therapies for lowering elevated blood sugar levels to avoid complications.
”Our solution is to target a mechanism on a molecular level that has not been addressed before, namely inhibitors of the protein aquaporin-9 (AQP9). This protein transports glycerol into the liver cell, where it gets turned into glucose and released into the plasma,” says Martina Kvist Reimer, CEO of Apoglyx, a virtual biotech company in Lund that develops a new therapeutic concept for treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Initial in vivo tests have shown promising results.
”Improved glucose control has been observed in tests on knockout mice, where AQP9 has been removed. Since less amounts of glycerol, which functions as a fuel for the glucose production of the liver, is transported to the liver, the concentration of glycerol increases in the mice’s plasma. This demonstrated that glycerol transport is effectively inhibited, with no observed side effect in such animals. Our concept also eliminates the risk of dangerously low glucose levels, which insulin-based therapies might cause. Of course, the concept needs to be proven in patients in order to validate its benefit,” Martina Kvist Reimer comments.

Out-License Before Clinical Phase
In 2016, Apoglyx received SEK 5 million from business angels to take the pre-clinical development further and hopefully reach proof-of-concept in relevant translational animal models in the first quarter of 2017. The goal is to create an orally administrated pharmaceutical in tablet form, and the company is also exploring additional indications where AQP-9 inhibition might have a therapeutic benefit.
”We’re the only company with patents covering selective and potent inhibitors of AQP9. We have a solid IP strategy which gives us competitive advantage, as our patents precludes other parties to use our compounds,” says Martina, who has presented the concept to various players within Pharma companies, whom have shown great interest in novel compounds with a first-in-class potential.
”Since our primary business strategy is to out-license our projects before clinical phase, we’ve listened to their advice and have, to a certain extent, adjusted our pre-clinical development programme based on their feedback. However, out-licensing at a preclinical stage is difficult, as Pharma companies rather partner at a clinical stage to minimise risk. As an alternative back-up strategy we are considering to progress AQP-9 inhibitors towards the clinical phase by partnering with a venture capital firm or by raising the required capital by an IPO.”