A San Diego Sampler from the War on Diabetes

6/24/11Follow @bvbigelow

The American Diabetes Association begins its 71st annual scientific conference today at the San Diego Convention Center, drawing more than 13,500 endocrinologists, scientists, and others involved in diabetes research and health care.

You could argue that in the comfort of the modern world, the twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity have replaced famine among the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The ADA says diabetes affects almost 26 million children and adults in the United States, and contributes to the deaths of over 230,000 Americans each year. In the United States alone, the association estimates the total cost of diagnosed diabetes at more than $174 billion.

As we’ve previously reported, San Diego is an innovation hub for diabetes research, ideas, and new therapies, so I checked to see what local companies would be presenting during the hundreds of scientific sessions scheduled to take place over the next four days. It’s not intended to serve as a comprehensive rundown, but rather as a sampling of what’s happening among San Diego’s diabetes specialists:

—Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AMLN), a big kahuna in San Diego’s war on diabetes, won a much-needed vote of confidence earlier this week when the European Union’s executive body, the European Commission, approved its once-weekly injectable version of exenatide (Bydureon) as a diabetes treatment. The FDA told Amylin in October it wanted additional studies of how the drug might affect the heart. Amylin says it plans to present new data about the long-acting version of exenatide, as well as its twice-daily version of exenatide (Byetta) and another diabetes drug, pramlintide acetate (Symlin), through two oral presentations and 17 poster sessions. The company also plans to make a presentation for investors on its findings in a webcast set for Sunday evening, and to post highlights on its recently launched corporate blog.

—San Diego-based Arena Pharmaceuticals, (NASDAQ: ARNA) and Eisai of Woodcliff Lake, NJ, plan to release data from their late-stage clinical trial (dubbed “BLOOM-DM”) of lorcaserin, Arena’s investigational weight-loss drug. Arena also has been regrouping since October, when the FDA raised questions about the “marginal” effectiveness of the drug. Arena’s scientists are scheduled to present their lorcaserin data in three poster sessions on Sunday.

—Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO), a San Diego specialty drug developer, plans to deliver three presentations concerning its work, including a late-breaking abstract on its formulation of recombinant human hyaluronidase in treating type 1 diabetes.

—San Diego-based Cebix plans to present data on the company’s C-peptide replacement therapy for treating microvascular problems associated with type 1 diabetes, such as peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy, nephropathy and erectile dysfunction. C-peptide is a naturally occurring product formed when insulin is cleaved from pro-insulin in the body, and has been shown to play a role in keeping the smallest blood vessels healthy in different tissues. Earlier this month, Cebix said it had begun an early stage trial to evaluate its proprietary long-acting form of C-peptide.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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