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Genprex inks license agreement with university researchers for potentially curative diabetes gene therapy

The gene therapy reprogrammes beta cells in the pancreas to restore their function, allowing them to replenish insulin levels

Drop of blood on a finger, person holding glucose test strip in other hand
In studies of diabetic mice, the gene therapy approached restored normal blood glucose levels for an extended period of time

Genprex Inc (NASDAQ:GNPX) has signed a licensing agreement with the University of Pittsburgh for a diabetes gene therapy that could have the potential to cure Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. 

The gene therapy, developed at the Rangos Research Center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, works by reprogramming beta cells in the pancreas to restore their function, allowing them to replenish insulin levels. 

“One of the biggest advantages of this gene therapy is that it could eliminate the need for insulin replacement therapy for diabetic patients,” lead researcher George Gittes said in a statement. “Lifting this huge burden for the millions of patients who must continuously monitor blood glucose levels and inject insulin daily would be a breakthrough in modern medicine. This therapy has the potential to truly disrupt the diabetes market.”

READ: Genprex prioritizing Oncoprex development in combo with AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso to treat non-small cell lung cancer

The therapy has been tested in mice and nonhuman primates, the company said. In studies of diabetic mice, the gene therapy approached restored normal blood glucose levels for an extended period of time, typically around four months. According to Gittes, that could translate to decades in humans.

“We are excited to announce the licensing agreement with The University of Pittsburgh, and we look forward to working with Dr. Gittes and his team to develop this groundbreaking treatment for diabetes,” Genprex CEO Rodney Varner said. “At Genprex, we have always put patient needs first, focusing on ways to bring new treatment options to patient populations who have large unmet medical needs.

“We believe this diabetes gene therapy may potentially become a new treatment option for the millions of diabetes patients who now must take insulin replacement therapy, and it may be effective for patients who do not benefit sufficiently from that therapy. Even more moving, the diabetes gene therapy could hold the potential to provide long term effectiveness, or even be a cure, for diabetes patients.”

The Austin, Texas- & Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said it plans to pursue potential partnerships for the development of this therapy in the US and abroad.

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and approximately 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Contact Andrew Kessel at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kessel

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