Israeli team develops 'anti-diabetes drug'

463 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes worldwide and up to 95% of this number have Type 2.

A blood glucose test is done to check sugar levels in a Type 2 Diabetes patient (photo credit: DARRYL LEJA/NIH/FLICKR)
A blood glucose test is done to check sugar levels in a Type 2 Diabetes patient
(photo credit: DARRYL LEJA/NIH/FLICKR)
A new drug being developed in Israel could be the answer to treating the main cause of Type 2 Diabetes, insulin resistance.
According to Concenter BioPharma co-founder and CSO Prof. Mottie (Mordechai) Chevion, “the unique property” of the drug, called Zygosid-50 “is that it cancels out insulin resistance.
“It’s an anti-diabetes drug,” he told The Jerusalem Post during an interview on Thursday afternoon.
He explained that the cause of Type 2 Diabetes is not completely understood, adding that there are several factors such as obesity, lifestyle, consumption of unhealthy foods and aging that, have led to increased incidents of Type 2 Diabetes.
“There is also a link to ethnicity and family history and multi-gene dispositions,” he said. “It’s a combination of genetic factors and environmental triggers, although there are differences among the different regions [around the world].”
Chevion said that according to the most recent statistics from December 2019, there are some 463 million people worldwide who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
“Of that number, up to 95% have Type 2,” he said. “By 2045, we will have a 51% increase in diabetes, meaning that 700 million will have been diagnosed.
Most concerning, Chevion said, is that in the Middle East and North Africa there about 55 million people who have diabetes and this will increase to 108 million by 2045.
“This is a 96% increase,” he stressed. “There are 31 million people in the US with diabetes, but more than 90 million pre-diabetic people.”
He said that it’s “devastating and alarming that there is no cure and generally diabetes worsens with age. All these numbers are those with full-blown diabetes, and for every person that has contracted it, there are two or three pre-diabetic people.”
This means that “one in three or four in the broader population are pre-diabetic, emphasizing that a third or even half of them could turn diabetic in the next five to 10 years.”
The economic cost of treating diabetes, he said, which includes treatment, hospital stays, amputations and missing work time, is more than $850 billion a year.
“With Zygosid-50, we are proposing the use of the new drug and are developing it into an oral pill, as a monotherapy drug, to treat diabetics and prevent in pre-diabetic patients,” Chevion said. “For many years, people didn’t recognize that the root cause of diabetes is insulin resistance - this has become very clear fact.”
Diabetes causes blood-glucose levels, also called blood sugar, to be too high. Blood glucose is a person’s main source of energy and comes from food.
Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy.
“This means that for the same level of insulin that is produced, there is not enough infiltration of glucose into the muscles... insulin is what facilitates the infiltration of glucose into its main customers, which is the muscles,” Chevion explained. “[Diabetes is when] insulin is not able to support the infiltration of the glucose into the muscles.”
He highlighted that diabetes is multi-organ
Asked about how Zygosid-50 works, he said that it “almost completely reduces insulin resistance and normalizes all diabetes-associated parameters to the normal range.
“If you take care of the insulin resistance, you take care of the symptoms,” he said.
He stressed that they have not found any adverse side effects during their testing.
“What we found about Zygosid-50 allows us to go into clinical trials,” he said, explaining that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved clinical trials, after supplementary TOX studies,  based on evidence from earlier testing in animal models for Type 2 Diabetes.
“It was proven as  ‘safe’,” Chevion told the Post. “We found that it restores the normal insulin sensitivity, it restores blood glucose levels, it also normalizes the glucose tolerance test,” which measures the body’s response to sugar, “and suppressed systemic inflammation,  which is a component of diabetes.”
Chevion added that on a molecular level, “Zygosid-50...forces an intra-cellular exchange to take place,” where it removes what’s called “free iron” in cells and replaces it with zinc.
“It captures the ‘free’ iron in the cell and it releases the same amount of zinc into the cell - it  feeds them with zinc,” he said, adding that zinc deficiency has often been found in those suffering from diabetes.
He made it clear that zinc is needed for certain pathways in diabetes-related processes in the body.
Chevion found that Zygosid-50 is effective in fighting topical inflammation on the skin and that even under continuous use there were no negative side effects.
Asked about BioPharma, Chevion said that it was set up in 2019 as a subsidiary to Silkim Pharma, which is a holding company for the intellectual properties of the inventors patents.
In December, Chevion won first place at the 17th Annual World Congress on Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases for his work on Zygosid-50.
Asked what 2020 has in store, he said that they are busy fundraising $5 million dollars to do an additional TOX study and continue with clinical trials on people.
“We are hoping to achieve this goal soon,” Chevion said. “Once we get it, we can start the trials in a matter of weeks.
“We’re ready,” he concluded, adding that they plan to do the clinical studies (Phases I and IIa) at two hospitals in Israel, and then submit an investigational new drug application to the FDA for further studies.