DiaPep277 has already shown strong trial results for type I diabetes, which is in some ways similar to LADA. This makes the new investigation seem worthwhile. Approval would provide a new treatment option for an often-misdiagnosed subcategory of diabetic patients. It would also greatly increase the market potential of the drug, by allowing access to a much larger patient population.
Israeli biopharmaceutical company Peptor has announced that it will begin phase II trials of DiaPep277 in latent autoimmune diabetes in adults, following positive trial results in patients with type I diabetes.
Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) encompasses a recently defined subcategory of patients within the type II diabetes population. The onset of type II diabetes is typically slow and most patients can be treated effectively with diet and oral medications such as sulphonylureas.
However, in patients with LADA the insulin-producing beta-cells of the pancreas exhibit a more rapid loss of function. Sulfonylurea therapy fails, creating the need for early intervention with insulin therapy. As such, LADA more closely resembles type I diabetes - both are classified as autoimmune diseases, since the immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta-cells of the pancreas.
Phase II trials of DiaPep277 in the treatment of newly diagnosed type I diabetes have demonstrated that the drug can stabilize the need for insulin by halting disease progression and preventing further destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells. These results and the similarity in the mechanisms underlying both type I diabetes and LADA provide a rationale for investigating the use of DiaPep277 in patients belonging to the latter diabetic population.
Given the limited number of compounds in development for LADA, coupled with the high prevalence of the disease, which is believed to account for up to 20% of type II sufferers, the market potential of DiaPep277 will be greatly increased if Peptor is able to gain approval for use in both diabetic indications.