Beta Cell Regeneration
DeveloGen acquired DiaPep277 as part of its 2004 merger with the Israeli immunotherapeutics company, Peptor, a move that resulted in a combined pipeline that includes candidates for the treatment of type 1 and 2 diabetes via both immunomodulatory and regenerative approaches, Dr. Karmann continues.
Prior to the Peptor deal, he says, one of our main in-house R&D programs was centered on stimulating pancreatic beta cell regeneration using growth factors and small molecule synthetic agonists of Pax4, a transcription factor that has been shown to play a crucial role in beta cell development.
These programs are ongoing, and a series of candidate drugs, currently in preclinical development, represent the foundation for a future treatment that will trigger patients own stem cells to develop into insulin-producing beta cells.
With DiaPep277 and the growth factor/Pax4 programs, we have the means to develop separate treatments that protect beta cells from autoimmune attack and stimulate beta cell regeneration. Our protein drug, or growth factor, development programs represent a particularly exciting opportunity for DeveloGen, both from an IP and time-to-market point of view.
DeveloGens beta cell regeneration program includes the recombinant protein, DG119, a novel, highly conserved secreted protein identified by DeveloGen through large-scale screens searching for secreted proteins involved in the early stages of pancreas development and insulin-secreting cell differentiation.
Early studies confirmed that the protein is expressed in the blood vessels of the embryonic pancreas, which are an important source for beta cell differentiation and survival signals. Additional in vivo studies demonstrated that transgenic mice, expressing DG119 under the control of a pancreas-specific promoter, develop increases in overall beta cell mass and islet size. DG119 transgenic mice also appear resistant to alloxan-induced beta cell damage.
Having developed a eukaryotic expression system for the production of recombinant DG119, DeveloGen says it plans to initiate in vivo pharmacological studies with the product during 2005.