As of 2014, 387 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes at a stunning cost of over $450 billion for medical care. The disease is complex and caused by various factors that influence each patient, such as the individual’s unique genetic makeup and environment. With advances in genetics and our understanding of the mechanisms underlying this disease, we are poised to more effectively diagnose, treat, and one day cure this devastating disease.
Diabetes results from insufficient levels of the hormone insulin, which is required to transfer consumed sugars out of the blood and into the tissues where they can be used as an energy source. Seven percent of Canadians live with diabetes, and the annual direct medical costs are expected to reach $16.9 billion by 2020. The indirect costs resulting from related medical complications and loss of productivity are staggering. In addition to financial implications, there is an immense impact on the quality of life of patients with diabetes, who face debilitating complications, including damage to multiple organs and life-long dependence upon drugs. Diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease, kidney failure, adult blindness, and limb amputations. The ever-expanding diabetes epidemic costs Canada billions of dollars and threatens to overrun the world’s healthcare capacity. While personal, environmental, and lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, play a role in whether an individual will become obese or diabetic, the individual’s molecular constitution also plays an important role in determining their disease risk. This explains why some individuals can eat large, high calorie meals and exercise little yet do not become obese or diabetic, while others have a healthy diet and are physically active but cannot seem to reach their ideal weight. Likewise, while being overweight is a major risk factor for developing diabetes, many people who are overweight will never become diabetic. Knowledge of genetic factors affecting how insulin-producing cells function would help to determine who will be able to cope with the stress of weight gain and who will have their pancreatic cells fail to produce sufficient insulin, ultimately resulting in diabetes. Diabetes is not a single disease but rather a spectrum of individualized conditions. Each patient arrives to a similar phenotype via distinct gene-environment interactions. This means that the treatment strategy must also be tailored to the individual in order to be maximally successful and cost-effective. Indeed, clinicians have observed that each patient respond differently to identical pharmacological and lifestyle interventions; only about 50% of therapies are effective in the person for whom they are prescribed and many cause adverse drug responses. It is evident that we need a way to predict how the patient would respond to certain drugs. Such approach will reduce ineffective prescribing or avoidable adverse drug reactions and increase effectiveness of treatments.
Deaths due to diabetes-related causes approach those of all cancers combined
Personalized Biomarkers Inc. is dedicated to identifying and translating personalized approaches to managing and treating diabetes more effectively and safely. The anti-diabetic drugs, GLP-1R agonists (GLP-1), are widely prescribed by physicians. In fact, every one out of three diabetic and obese patients are candidate for GLP-1. This translates to treatment costs of more than $3.2 billion per year. GLP-1 drugs are different from other anti-diabetic drugs in that the usage is associated with weight loss. They also have profound blood-glucose lowering effect without significant hypoglycemia, a medical condition of not having enough glucose in the blood. In some patients, the response to GLP-1 drugs can be dramatic, but in others they are not effective or are even harmful, emphasizing the need for treatment tailored to the individual. To address this issue, we have assembled a unique team of expert clinicians and scientists to develop biomarkers that will accurately guide prescribing of GLP-1. Personalized Biomarkers Inc. is working to identify blood-based biomarkers that reliably predict a patient’s response to GLP-1. These biomarkers will be implemented into clinical practice through development into predictive blood tests that can accurately guide prescribing of GLP-1 to diabetic and obese patients. Tom Elliott, a practicing clinical diabetologist and Medical Director of BC Diabetes, has established the largest patient database for diabetic patients in Canada that will be used as the resource to identify accurate biomarkers. Expert input from researchers Timothy Kieffer and James Johnson will provide insight into biomarker selection. Susanne Clee will provide her expertise in identifying genetic factors to predict responders/non-responders and adverse drug reactions. CEO Bruce McManus and his team at Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF) Centre will lead in the biomarker signature selection, validation and development.
Identifying biomarkers for the development of diagnostics to guide prescription has the potential to reduce adverse drug reactions and improve outcomes, while saving the healthcare system and patients in avoidable ineffective prescribing and the treatment of adverse drug reactions. [/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]