Charting a course to intercepting Type I diabetes

How companies aiming to prevent Type I diabetes are finding people at risk

Arguably, the most important innovations on the horizon for Type I diabetes would replace the insulin-producing cells patients have lost or prevent at-risk individuals from losing the cells in the first place. With Provention planning a rolling BLA submission this year for a treatment meant to intercept Type I diabetes before it starts, the latter approach could be taking off first.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is behind Provention Bio Inc. (NASDAQ:PRVB) in the interception setting, and Imcyse S.A. may follow in its footsteps after it generates early stage data in the treatment setting. After diagnosis, patients with Type I diabetes are wedded to careful glucose monitoring and frequent insulin injections their whole life.

A handful of companies aim to reduce the need for exogenous insulin through transplantation of insulin-producing β beta cells (see “Islets of Hope”). Leading the approach is Semma Therapeutics Inc., which plans to take its encapsulated β cells into the clinic this year. In September, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced it would acquire Semma for $950 million in cash (see “Vertex Moves into Diabetes”).

Disease interception programs, in contrast, are designed to spot abnormal biology early and stop it before it destroys the pancreatic β cells that produce insulin.

Though the field of

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