Hua Medicine has yet to eliminate the biggest risk in the development of glucokinase activator

Here is an interview with Hua Medicine vice president Yi Zhang. According to Yi Zhang, sinogliatin (RO5305552) should be the best glucokinase activator or even the best anti-diabetic drug in the world. It’s not really all that good in my opinion.

Pharmaceutical companies have put hundreds of millions of dollars in the development glucokinase activators. Similar therapies from Merck, AstraZeneca and others never made it to market. The biggest problem is that glucokinase activators appear lack long-term efficacy.

Both Merck’s MK-0941 and AstraZeneca’s AZD1656 failed in mid-stage trials. Although initially favourable plasma glucose reductions were observed, the efficacy was not sustained[1, 2]. Furthermore, MK-0941 was associated with elevated plasma triglycerides. Merck’s scientists even suggested

that continued activation of hepatic glucokinase has deleterious metabolic effects and that nonspecific activation of glucokinase may not be an appropriate approach for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Hua Medicine was founded by Li Chen, the former CSO of Roche’s R&D Center in China, with $50 million from a group of investors, including ARCH Venture Partners and WuXi PharmaTech. Hua Medicine licensed worldwide rights to sinogliatin from Roche in 2011. Roche bargained away the program more or less due to the failure of Merck and AstraZeneca.

Hua Medicine has completed a Phase Ib trial in which 53 patients just received 8 days of sinogliatin. The long-term efficacy and safety have not been assessed. It is too early to say Hua Medicine succeeded where Merck and AstraZeneca had failed.

[1] Diabetes Obes Metab. 2013, 15(10), 923-930.

[2] Diabetes Care. 2011, 34(12), 2560-2566.


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