CLEVELAND (WJW)-– As the cost of life-saving insulin soars for people with diabetes, a Cleveland company is developing nanotechnology that could help.
The technology, from Diasome, makes insulin more effective in the body so less is needed to regulate blood sugar.
Insulin costs for patients with type one diabetes doubled between 2012 and 2016, according to the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute.
The skyrocketing costs have led some patients to ration doses of life-saving insulin, according to Dr. Rose Gubitosi-Klug, Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. She said, on a weekly basis, her staff encounters pediatric patients whose families are limiting dosage to try to save money and the results can be dangerous.
“It's a huge problem,” said Dr. Gubitosi-Klug. “This is an absolute requirement for them. It's not optional by any means, and this has to be affordable for families.”
Diasome’s insulin additive makes the medicine more effective by helping it reach the liver, which controls blood sugar.
“The point of this additive is to act like a nano-sized FedEx envelope or carrier system for molecules to take that injected insulin or oral insulin directly to cells in the liver that are the primary recipients of insulin in a healthy person,” said Diasome CEO Bob Geho, who has Type 1 diabetes, himself.
“We're trying to change, literally change, where insulin goes after it's injected in the body, so we give people a more normal, more physiologic basis for controlling blood sugar levels.”
Geho said testing found the company’s Hepatocyte Directed Vesicle (HDV) technology helps better regulate blood sugar levels.
“Patients should be able to have more normal blood sugar control without the fear of dangerous low blood sugar,” Geho said. He said trials found the additive also reduces the amount of mealtime insulin needed in some patients by as much as 25 percent.
“As far as we know, Diasome has the most advanced technology for changing where that insulin works once it gets into the body,” Geho said.
Geho said the company is hoping to begin phase three testing in 2020, which is expected to take up to two years. He said, if approved by the FDA, the product could be available by 2022 or 2023.
Dr. Gubitosi-King called the technology groundbreaking.
“Every vial is going to last longer, when we're talking about healthy economics, because you're adding this additional medication that will help target the insulin action in the body,” she said.
She’s also among the doctors advocating for legislation to reduce costs. State lawmakers are considering a pair of bills related to insulin costs. One bill, introduced in the Ohio House last month, would limit the price of insulin provided by health plans at $100 per month.