UK biotech Arecor has raised €6.7M to help fund development of its extra-fast insulin and stable glucagon products for people with insulin-dependent diabetes.

The speed of action of insulin has been a limiting factor for development of the artificial pancreas — a combined insulin pump and glucose monitor that would allow real-time control of blood glucose. This technology is eagerly awaited by people with insulin-dependent diabetes, as an efficient system would eliminate the need for multiple daily injections and risk for hypoglycemic attacks.

Insulin injections currently take 10-30 minutes to have an effect, depending on the formulation. The perfect artificial pancreas would need to be able to raise or lower blood glucose in minutes, so for such a system to work well, there is a need for super fast-acting insulins.

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According to Arecor, it has developed an insulin that has a “considerably more rapid onset compared with currently marketed rapid-acting insulins” and it is planning to target the developing artificial pancreas market.

Another important component of an effective artificial pancreas is glucagon, which counteracts the effects of low blood sugar due to overly high insulin dosing. However, solubility and stability have been a problem in the past. Arecor is also developing an aqueous, stable glucagon for this purpose that can also be used as an emergency rescue injection, something French biotech Adocia is also working on.

The company plans to use the investment to test its new products in humans and to develop stabilized, more efficient versions of a range of drugs for different indications.

The race for the ultimate artificial pancreas has not yet been won, although the technology is getting closer and closer. Current frontrunner Medtronic has a closed loop system on the market, but it is not yet fully automated. There are also a number of other competitors around the world including French biotech Cellnovo, among others.

While the exact arrival date for the fully automated system is uncertain, it is clear that we do not have too long to wait and the concurrent development of products such as fast insulin and stable glucagon can only make this advance happen more quickly.


Images via Shutterstock

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