There has been a steady increase in the number of diabetes-related R&D projects in recent years, and one area of particular interest is the pulmonary delivery of insulin, says a new report from PharmaProjects, released to coincide with the start of the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.
The total number of antidiabetics in active development has increased almost three-fold from 93 compounds in 1995 to 272 in 2003, while more than 50 projects currently in mid-stage (Phase II) clinical trials. This increased activity mirrors a dramatic rise in the number of people affected by diabetes, with the World Health Organisation's latest figures showing that the number of people worldwide with the disease is currently 177 million and could reach 300 million by the year 2025.
A number of inhaled insulin projects are in development, seeking to provide an alternative to insulin injections for glucose control. They include Exubera from Nektar Therapeutics, Pfizer and Aventis, based on the former's Inhance delivery technology and NN-1998 from Aradigm and Novo Nordisk, which uses Aradigm's AERx delivery technology. Both these candidates are in pivotal Phase III trials. Running a little way behind is a rival produce from Alkermes and Eli Lilly, based on Alkermes' AIR technology, currently in Phase II. A US filing for Exubera which was originally planned for 2002 but was held back by requests for further safety data by the US Food and Drug Administration.
These products, if approved, could expand the market for insulin to several times its current value as a result of patients being more willing to take the therapy if it is offered via inhalation rather than by injection," said PharmaProjects.