Lexicon Diabetes Drug

Combatting Type 1 Diabetes

Sean K. Thompson

Jun 25, 2018

This drug advancement is significant in that it can ease the treatment of Type 1 diabetes – which is also known as “insulin-dependent diabetes” requiring extreme treatment such as insulin shots, typically more severe than Type 2 “non-insulin dependent” diabetes.

What kind of research is going on in The Research Forest?

From its early days as a Baylor College of Medicine venture into biotechnology in 1995, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals has been using its patented “gene knockout” technology – a comprehensive process where one or more of an organism’s genes is removed or “knocked out,” – and parlayed it into a system that has identified more than 100 potential therapeutic targets.

Earlier this year, Lexicon representatives submitted their drug sotagliflozin to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for review and approval. This oral drug combines two different inhibitors that are designed to manage Type 1 diabetes by hindering the body’s absorption of excess glucose. The drug has also been submitted to regulators in the European Union for marketing approval. This drug advancement is significant in that it can ease the treatment of Type 1 diabetes – which is also known as “insulin-dependent diabetes” requiring treatment with insulin, typically more severe than Type 2 “non-insulin dependent” diabetes. Though between 90-95 percent of diabetes cases are Type 2, that still leaves more than three million Americans that suffer from Type 1, with approximately 15,000 adults and 15,000 children being diagnosed with it each year, according to research conducted at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Kellie Johnson is a resident of The Woodlands and also a member of the board of directors for JDRF. She has a vested interest in – and longtime admiration for – Lexicon’s work on its diabetes drug. As the mother of a pair of identical twin daughters who were both diagnosed as Type 1 diabetics in their youth, Kellie has kept up with the latest advancements in diabetes management technology, and she was thrilled to discover the latest breakthrough practically on her own doorstep.

“My daughter Jacquelyn was diagnosed at age 2, while Jillian was diagnosed 4 years later when she was 6,” says Kellie. “Even in the 4 years between their respective diagnoses, there was significant improvement in management. Originally, Jacquelyn had to have 8 syringes’ worth of shots a day. Today, they both manage their diabetes with insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, devices that not only provide 24-hour monitoring and treatment, but also allow me to be constantly kept up on their statistics via Bluetooth technology.”

Kellie met with one of the primary researchers at Lexicon working on the sotagliflozin trials, who himself was a Type 1 diabetic.

“I am absolutely amazed at what Lexicon is doing,” said Johnson. “This could be a game-changer for everyone out there with this type of diabetes.” 

There is a lot of mystery around type 1 diabetes, such as how it presents itself in a seemingly lack of dependency on environment or heredity. Both she and the twins’ father and their own ancestors never presented as diabetics, and the girls lead the same lives as their countless diabetes-free friends and classmates. With such uncertainty about the condition, there is a natural parallel uncertainty with some of its treatments.

“As a parent, we’re constantly worrying about the complications,” says Johnson. “With this new oral therapy from Lexicon, it’s amazing to think the girls could have tighter control of their blood sugars. This will lead to better health in the long term. The typical treatment is a roller coaster with illness and hormones affecting blood sugars. Sotagliflozin could level out some of the highs and lows and potentially providing patients with more time each day in the normal range.”

In The Woodlands, Jacquelyn and Jillian are known as “The Super Twins” as they continue, with their mother, to raise awareness and fundraise for a cure for Type 1 diabetes. The Woodlands community joins the Johnson family in gratitude for this type of research going on in our forest.

Lexicon Pharmaceuticals is a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company that for two decades has been applying a unique approach to gene science based on Nobel Prize-winning technology to discover, develop, and commercialize precise medicines for people with serious, chronic conditions. Lexicon’s passion is to bring medicines to the market that have the potential to improve the standard of care for diseases that have not experienced new treatment innovation in years. Lexicon is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas.