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12 November, 2019 - 14:13 By Tony Quested

Cambridge startup hopes to raise £7.5m diabetes cash

Young Cambridge company ET-traps Limited is bidding to raise £7.5 million to accelerate its fight against diabetes.

The money would allow ET-traps to complete advanced pre-clinicals, regulatory and Phase I clinical trials in type-1 diabetes as well as looking for collaborators to test ET-traps in other disease spaces associated with elevated endothelin(ET)-1 levels.

ET-traps’ lead indication is to treat diabetes, both type-1 and type-2, a group of metabolic disorders characterised by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. 

Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst and increased hunger. If left untreated, diabetes can cause many complications. 

Acute complications can include diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, or death. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes.

Founder and CEO Dr Arjun Jain told Business Weekly: “Currently available therapies are mainly limited to glucose control medications and medications to treat the disease complications so do not prevent progression of disease that is linked to the irreversible damage to the vital organs.

“The ET-traps approach to diabetes provides therapeutic synergy for (i) bringing back the pathologically elevated levels of endothelin-1 and (ii) repair of damage caused to the vital organs (long-term complications).
“Diabetes is more than just high sugar/glucose. Previous research has shown that a high glucose is deleterious in damaging organs/organ systems via pathologically elevated endothelin-1. 

“And of course the ET-traps would reduce/help sequester these increased levels of endothelin-1. They therefore offer a novel/ superior therapeutic tool. With world diabetes day on November 14, this therapeutic tool is an important addition that could help save millions of diabetics around the world!”

A recent review article by Dr Jain talked about ET-traps for use in more than just diabetes; a host of different diseases including cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, and pregnancy disorders, among others associated with pathologically elevated endothelin-1, would also benefit. 

It is likely that the ET-traps could also be used in these disease areas, although such use requires testing in relevant animal models. How the ET-traps might be differentiated for use in these different diseases will be modulated by the strength and frequency of dosing. 

For this, Dr Jain has been in touch with various research groups across the world for collaboration opportunities for testing ET-traps in different disease models. 

For instance, neurodegenerative conditions including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, are associated with pathologically elevated endothelin-1 levels. 

There are currently various drugs in use to block the ET system, but these are associated with various side effects. Therefore, the ET-traps, which provide a potent way of lowering the pathologically elevated endothelin-1 levels found in these different neurodegenerative disorders and are non-toxic for use could become an efficacious treatment option.

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