Scout Bio Advances Novel Gene Therapy for the Treatment of Feline Diabetes
Two pilot studies initiated to explore clinical applications for this convenient, one-time injectable treatment
Positions Scout Bio as the first company to advance novel GLP-1 constructs for gene therapy in companion animals
PHILADELPHIA, October 28, 2020 – Scout Bio, a biotechnology company focused on revolutionizing pet medicine by delivering a pipeline of one-time therapeutics for major chronic pet health conditions, today announced it has initiated two pilot clinical studies to demonstrate effectiveness of an AAV expressing a GLP-1 analog (SB-009) in treating diabetic felines.
Scout Bio envisions two potential therapeutic applications for SB-009. First, to replace daily insulin injections with a single injection of SB-009 to treat feline diabetes and second to significantly increase the percentage of cats entering remission when SB-009 is given with insulin.
The two initiated pilot clinical studies will investigate each of these two potential treatment paradigms.
- The initial pilot study will recruit a minimum of 20 cats and evaluate if SB-009 is safe and efficacious in the management of the clinical signs and high blood sugar levels of feline diabetes.
- A separate clinical study enrolling approximately 60 cats, followed for six months, will determine if adding SB-009 to insulin can significantly increase the percentage of cats entering remission.
Mark Heffernan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Scout Bio remarked, “This one-time injectable therapy for feline diabetes has the potential to provide a convenient single treatment that is an alternative to the burden of twice daily insulin injections. We believe SB-009 has the potential to be a blockbuster product for animal health and that our pipeline of gene therapy products for pets will disrupt and grow major markets.”
SB-009 was developed under a collaboration between scientists at Scout Bio and the University of Pennsylvania’s Gene Therapy Program, where the protein was engineered to improve potency, circulating accumulation kinetics and manufacturability. The design of SB-009 makes the clinical dose both affordable and commercially attractive.
Matthew Wilson, VP Product Discovery and External Innovation said, “This is a further example of our strong collaborative relationship with UPenn’s Gene Therapy Program and Scout’s internal capabilities of executing preclinical research to rapidly identify highly potent AAV gene therapies. In less than 12 months after initiating a discovery program, we are now in a position to transition into patients.”
Scout Bio has conducted robust preclinical studies with various GLP-1 constructs in rodents and healthy cats. Key findings include:
- Sustained dose-related GLP-1 analog expression in cats, over the targeted therapeutic concentration, lasted out to five months after a single intramuscular injection in an ongoing study
- A clear dose-related pharmacokinetic profile, with the highest dose of SB-009 showing no adverse effects and expressing the GLP-1 analogue significantly above the expected therapeutic levels
- Ex vivo potency verification against known effective molecules demonstrating active products secreted from transduced muscle cells of cats
- Blood glucose correction and weight reduction in representative mouse diabetes models versus controls and dose dependent biologic activity demonstrated in healthy cats
Dr. Anne Traas, Scout Bio’s Chief Development Officer reflected, “Owners can be devastated to learn their pet has this life-threatening disease and unfortunately, many are unable to give twice daily insulin injections and have to make the difficult choice to euthanize their beloved pet. A one-time safe and efficacious therapy, given by a veterinarian, that eliminates the need for insulin and worry of hypoglycemia, would greatly improve the current treatment paradigm and result in an improved quality of life for diabetic cats and their owners.”
Feline diabetes, a severe disease lacking recent innovation, remains a major challenge for veterinarians and owners to safely and effectively manage. Diabetes in most cats is similar to type 2 diabetes in people. Insulin resistance, caused by factors such as obesity, leads to Beta-cell disfunction (the cells that produce insulin). Cats become insulin dependent when blood sugar levels rise, commonly 3-10 times normal, leading to the development of clinical signs which can seriously and negatively impact both the owner and the cat. The most common signs are increased drinking, increased urination and weight loss despite ravenous appetite.
SB-009 is a recombinant AAV gene therapy viral vector utilizing a novel capsid expressing an engineered feline GLP-1 agonist for the treatment of feline diabetes. GLP-1 has been shown to be a safe and highly efficacious molecule in the treatment of humans with type 2 diabetes and SB-009 is the first gene-therapy delivered GLP-1 to be studied in clinical studies in cats with a view to treat the disease.
The expressed feline GLP-1 analog protein functions by stimulating the beta-cells in the pancreas to produce more insulin and may also have an effect in decreasing insulin resistance. GLP-1 receptor agonists do not decrease glucose levels in animals with normal blood glucose, so there is expected to be a very low, or no risk of hypoglycemia.
About Feline Diabetes
Most diabetic cats appear to have disease similar to human type 2 diabetes, which is primarily defined as a combined problem with insulin production by the beta-cells in the pancreas, as well as a decrease in the sensitivity to the normal action of insulin (insulin resistance). In cats, one of the most common factors contributing to insulin resistance is obesity which reduces insulin sensitivity.
Lack of insulin production and decreased sensitivity to insulin causes the glucose (sugar) in the blood to become very high leading to the clinical signs. Very high levels of blood glucose also hurt the beta-cells in the pancreas, leading to further reductions in insulin production.
Substantial progress has been made in the treatment of human type 2 diabetes, even in the early stages of the disease. However, insulin therapy remains the only FDA-approved treatment for diabetes in cats.
About Current Treatment | Feline Diabetes
Current therapy aims to replace the insulin that the cat’s body no longer makes by injecting insulin twice daily. Giving insulin in the right amounts may bring the blood sugar levels down. If the blood glucose can be brought under control for the majority of a 24-hour period each day, then the clinical signs will be reduced to manageable levels. Too much insulin can cause the blood sugar to drop to dangerous levels (hypoglycemia), so there has to be a careful balance made between maintaining ideal blood glucose levels and administering too much insulin which may result in life threatening low blood sugar levels.
Often owners find the prospect of administering injections to their cats daunting and the strict regimen of twice daily injections and feedings can be difficult to fit into a busy lifestyle. Unfortunately, not treating the cats is simply not a viable option and usually results in a rapid decline in physical health. Even with insulin treatment, some cats’ diabetes is not well controlled, resulting in the continuation of clinical signs and/or euthanasia.
About Diabetic Remission
Good control of blood glucose may also allow the beta-cells to ‘rest’. That rest may increase their capacity to regain some of their insulin-secreting ability. Insulin administration helps to decrease and control the excess blood glucose levels and complement whatever insulin producing ability the cat has left. In some cases, cats regain enough function to allow the insulin injections to stop. This is called diabetic remission. A cat is determined to be in remission when blood sugar is normal and there is complete correction of clinical signs once insulin has been discontinued.
About Scout Bio
Scout Bio is a biotechnology company focused on revolutionizing pet medicine by delivering a pipeline of one-time therapeutics for major chronic pet health conditions. Scout Bio’s therapeutics are designed to induce long-term expression of therapeutic proteins in pet patients using AAV vector technology. Scout Bio has an exclusive research and development collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s Gene Therapy Program. Scout Bio’s innovative partnerships build on a 20-year history with AAV leaders and is complemented by Scout Bio’s global leaders in gene therapy research and development. Scout Bio is a private company headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more information, see www.scoutbio.co
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