Our Innovation Analysts recently looked into emerging technologies and up-and-coming startups working on innovative solutions for the pharma sector. As there is a large number of startups working on a wide variety of solutions, we want to share our insights with you. This time, you will discover 5 promising startups tackling type 2 diabetes.
Heat Map: 5 Top Startups Tackling Type 2 Diabetes
Using our StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 1.379.000+ startups & scaleups globally, we looked at innovation in the field of pharma. For this research, we identified 150 relevant solutions and picked 5 to showcase below. These companies were chosen based on a data-driven startup scouting approach, taking into account factors such as location, founding year, and relevance of technology, among others. Depending on your specific criteria, the top picks might look entirely different.
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights 5 startups & scaleups developing novel therapeutics for type 2 diabetes. Moreover, the Heat Map reveals regions that observe a high startup activity and illustrates the geographic distribution of all 150 companies we analyzed for this specific topic.
Caldan Therapeutics – Small Molecules Therapeutics
Type 2 diabetes usually manifests in older people, as their bodies lose the ability to regulate and produce insulin. However, increasingly, younger people and even adolescents are diagnosed with T2D owing to a combination of poor diet, sedentary lifestyles, and, to an extent, genetics. Over the years, research and development (R&D) into the pathophysiology of diabetes has evolved from thinking of the disease as an insulin deficiency to a disease that affects multiple organs. Emerging pharma startups utilize their knowledge about diabetes and develop novel therapeutics to counter type 2 diabetes.
Based out of the UK, Caldan Therapeutics is developing novel therapeutics targeting modulators of free fatty acid receptors for metabolic disease including type 2 diabetes. This method of treatment aims to deliver oral small molecules with the potential for glucose-lowering agents, which offers additional benefits when compared to currently marketed compounds. Caldan is focusing on research and development (R&D) programs that aim to address multiple aspects of T2D pathophysiology including insulin secretion, insulin sensitivity, and islet cell protection, as well as anti-inflammatory activity in muscle, liver, and adipose tissue, weight loss, and decreased hepatic steatosis.
Abareco Pharma – Beta Cell Revival
In patients suffering from T2D, the dysfunction in their pancreatic processes usually leads to poor regulation of insulin. When left unchecked, poor insulin regulation causes a variety of symptoms that play out over a long time period. From feeling constantly thirsty and exhausted to unnatural loss of weight and blurred vision, diabetic patients are usually caught unawares when the hormonal dysfunction leads to heart and kidney diseases.
Abareco Pharma is a Swedish startup that has identified a novel diabetes target located on beta cells and works to revert dysfunctional beta cells back to a functional and healthy state. The startup’s treatment revives beta cells by targeting the voltage-dependent anion channel-1 (VDAC1) protein. The VDAC1 inhibitors are then able to respond to physiologic changes in blood glucose and produce insulin naturally. Abarceo’s T2D candidate is currently in the preclinical phase of drug development.
Elevian – Recombinant Growth Differentiation Factor 11 (rGDF11)
New therapeutics for diabetes span targeting and modulating various receptors and using small molecule therapies. Several such therapies aim to naturally improve the body’s capability to manage insulin and blood glucose levels. Pharma startups and scaleups are working to significantly improve current T2D medication, which includes insulin injections and oral medication, to remove the high degree of variation in dosage depending on patient conditions.
The US-based startup Elevian is researching a number of therapeutics that regulate GDF11 in order to restore the body’s natural regenerative capacity. The startup’s candidate for diabetes utilizes its rGDF11 to attenuate the effects of T2D and is currently undergoing preclinical trials. Elevian is also working to discover novel molecules that modulate the GDF11 pathway.
Wren Therapeutics – T2D & Protein Misfolding
A different emerging school of thought involves treating T2D as a protein misfolding disease. The role of islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP), also known as amylin, is of particular interest to pharma startups. IAPP is a co-secretion along with insulin and is under investigation for being a cause of beta-cell dysfunction in the pancreas. Protein misfolding is already under study for its role in causing various cell, tissue, and organ dysfunction, such as in neurodegenerative diseases.
British startup Wren Therapeutics utilizes its six proprietary network kinetics platforms for drug discovery, to specifically address the unique challenges of protein misfolding. The startup’s kinetics-based approach solves for the molecular reaction network that underlies each misfolding disease and provides a predictive, quantitative map of the network and its dynamics. Wren is currently investigating IAPP as a potential target for developing small molecule therapeutics to fight T2D.
Zucara Therapeutics – Preventing Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia or lower levels of insulin in the blood affects diabetic patients, especially in type 1 diabetes. Sometimes, people with type 2 diabetes also need insulin therapy if other treatments are unable to keep blood glucose levels in control. Further, nocturnal hypoglycemia, where blood glucose levels become significantly low, to sometimes cause severe episodes. Pharma startups are working on therapies to enable intensive glycemic control in diabetic patients.
Zucara Therapeutics is aiming to prevent hypoglycemia in insulin-treated diabetes with a therapeutic delivered as a once-a-day subcutaneous injection. The startup’s approach reduces the likelihood of insulin therapy to cause hypoglycemia without affecting its efficacy. Zucara’s novel antagonist intends to block somatostatin type 2 (SSTR2) receptors on alpha cells in the pancreas, which are stimulated at higher levels by the over-production of somatostatin in insulin-dependent diabetic patients.
What About The Other 145 Solutions?
While we believe data is key to creating insights it can be easy to be overwhelmed by it. Our ambition is to create a comprehensive overview and provide actionable innovation intelligence and enable you to achieve your goals faster. The 5 solutions tackling type 2 diabetes showcased above are promising examples out of 150 we analyzed for this article. To identify the most relevant solutions based on your specific criteria, get in touch.