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POTENTIAL BREAKTHROUGH IN ADULT DIABETES TO RECEIVE FUNDING FROM VIRGINIA'S CIT

 HERNDON, Va., Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Funds to speed up the completion of an important new pharmaceutical treatment for diabetes have been awarded by Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology to the University of Virginia Medical School. The latest grant, to a research team on the track of a potentially major breakthrough in diagnosing and treating adult onset (Type II) diabetes and other disorders related to insulin resistance, was announced by CIT President Linwood Holton, former governor of Virginia.
 The funding targets development of a treatment for insulin resistance, or the inability of the body to properly metabolize insulin. Insulin resistance has been implicated in several disorders in addition to adult onset diabetes, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, abnormal lipid levels and obesity. Insulin resistance can lead to high levels of circulating insulin, or hyperinsulinemia, a condition believed by many researchers to be associated with high blood pressure, low levels of circulating high- density lipo-proteins (HDL), the beneficial cholesterol, and high levels of low density lipo-proteins (LDL), the detrimental cholesterol.
 CIT's grant to the University of Virginia Medical School has been matched by a grant to the university research team from Insmed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., of Charlottesville, Va., a company dedicated to developing products that diagnose and treat insulin resistance. This condition is well-known in individuals suffering from Type II or Adult Onset Diabetes and also affects about 20 percent of Type I diabetics who are dependent on insulin injections. About 12 million people in the United States have Type II diabetes, of which only half are diagnosed.
 "Therapeutics now available to treat adult onset diabetes and other disease states attempt to treat symptoms associated with the conditions. We are proposing to develop therapeutic agents that will treat the contributing factor or causal agent, insulin resistance," according to Joseph Larner, M.D., Ph.D. alumni professor of pharmacology at the University of Virginia Medical School and principal researcher on the project. Larner, retired chair of the medical school's Department of Pharmacology and a leading researcher in this field for 30 years, also notes that certain medications regularly prescribed to treat hypertension, namely thiazide diuretics and beta blockers, can actually exacerbate the condition of insulin resistance in some patients.
 Larner's pioneering research on insulin mediators, their role and chemical structure, has opened a new insight into insulin resistance at the biochemical level. Products to diagnose insulin resistance and treat the condition are under development by Insmed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its subsidiary, Insmed Diagnostics. Tests in large and small animals have shown efficacious results and the company is encouraged as the first commercial product prepares to enter the Food and Drug Administration regulatory approval process.
 Insmed also has benefited from the support of the Center for Innovative Technology through CIT's Center for Bioprocess Development, located at the University of Virginia. Simultaneously, collaborative work there, under the direction of Donald J. Kirwan, Ph.D., is focused on developing scaled-up methods for production of commercial quantities of the first scheduled pharmaceutical product. CIT's ability to concurrently sponsor and facilitate different parts of this technology transfer process benefits the state's economy and offers a distinct advantage to Virginia companies seeking to commercialize research taking place in Virginia's public universities.
 Insmed, a start-up company and sole licenser to technology developed by Larner, has been chartered to manage the development and commercialization of product opportunities from Larner's research. This exclusive worldwide license was negotiated with the University of Virginia Alumni Patents Foundation. Insmed is headed by Mark Logan, president and CEO, a leading Fortune 500 healthcare executive who formerly was Consumer Group president of Becton, Dickinson and Company and was president of the Health Care and Consumer Group of Bausch & Lomb.
 The latest grant, CIT's third to this research team at the University of Virginia, comes at a critical time in the process of moving the scientific discoveries from the academic laboratory at UVA's Medical School to the commercial marketplace, where the benefit to Virginia accrues in the establishment of another healthcare company and potential manufacturing facility in the state, with products that have a multibillion dollar market potential. Insmed estimates the drug categories in which insulin resistance products could have therapeutic benefit to range in dollar value at the manufacturer sales level in the United States from $550 million for Type II diabetes to over $20 billion for cardiovascular products.
 The project offers a dynamic view of how CIT's highly skilled staff of scientists, engineers, and business specialists works to integrate the state's academic and industrial resources to promote economic development through the transfer of technology in Virginia. State and federally supported organizations are expected to develop or significantly increase such initiatives, which have been underway in Virginia for the past 8 years. During that time, CIT, a non- profit corporation established and funded by the state legislature, has funded some 670 major research projects involving 640 companies at Virginia's state-supported universities, with companies and other sources matching CIT research funds at a rate of $3 to every CIT dollar.
 -0- 1/15/93
 /CONTACT: Barbara Cooper, director of public information, Center for Innovative Technology, 703-689-3013 or, after hours, 703-715-0292/


CO: Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology; University of
 Virginia ST: Virginia IN: MTC SU:


DC -- DC026 -- 5584 01/15/93 17:47 EST
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Date:Jan 15, 1993
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