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Why a Spoonful Doesn’t Help the Medicine Go Down

by Jon Waterman Smith, September 11, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Tags

Many of the foods we eat today have become significant and controversial social and health issues. The rise of the incidence of diabetes and diabetes related disease in not just the western world, but also the emerging economies of the world is becoming a global phenomenon with an associated highly significant healthcare burden.

Research on Diabetes and Other Metabolic Diseases

Sugar is one of the many essential chemical components in our body and is the main energy source for maintaining our life. Our body responds to blood sugar in a coordinated way which involves neurohumoral regulation, including insulin synthesis, secretion, and receptor action.

Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly called diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases related to high blood glucose. Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes including 7 million who do not know it and 79 million who are pre-diabetic. The cause of DM is mainly due to either insufficient production or improper use of insulin. Lack or improper function of insulin affects moving glucose from blood into cells and then leads to diabetes. A long-term increase in blood sugar can cause polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger). There are two common forms of DM: Type 1 resulting from insulin deficiency and Type 2 resulting from insulin resistance. Over time, hyperglycemia can lead to serious complications and can be fatal if left untreated. Therefore, the scientific community continues to focus on developing ways to both manage complications of diabetes and look for a cure.

How do we find new ways to treat an ever growing problem?
Accumulating evidence has demonstrated that diabetes mellitus (DM) in non-human primates (NHPs) most closely mimic the disease in human, not only clinical indications, but also the relevant molecular mechanisms. As the best pre-clinical models for research in diabetes they provide the best opportunity for successfully testing drug efficacy and greatly reducing the risk of failure during clinical trials. Crown has the world’s largest population of Cynomolgus monkeys with naturally occurring type 2 diabetes, and continues to develop a deeper understanding of this population, successfully identifying sub populations that exhibit such phenotypes as high blood pressure, diabetic nephropathy, etc. The hope is to enrich the knowledge of an already diverse but representative set of models that more closely reflect the human patient population and the many phenotypic traits and disease complications such as compromised cardiovascular and renal function that are associated with diabetes. Having the models is just part of the story.

Crown continues to grow and develop its tissue bank of diabetic NHPs – D’Bank™. The objective is to create a “Serial Tissue Bank” by collecting metabolic tissues such as adipose, skeletal muscle and liver from normal, pre-diabetic and diabetic phases in the same individual. In conjunction, these models are genetically screened and the fully curated dataset made available in a searchable database – D’Base™. Differential display of the gene expression pattern should help to unravel crucial alterations of molecular metabolisms contributing to an abnormality, opening the way to the identification and validation of biomarkers and novel targets for drug discovery to take advantage of.

The future may not be “sugar coated”, but we may finally be seeing the “green shoots” in discovering ways to improve the development of novel, beneficial treatments for millions of patients world-wide.


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