In parallel research, Prof. Shechter and colleagues developed a new technique that can affect how numerous drugs, including diabetic applications, are released into the body. The approach may prolong the action of these drugs, making it possible to administer them at much longer intervals without jeopardizing their effectiveness.
Immediately after it’s taken, a drug’s level in the blood normally surges - sometimes up to 100 times more than is needed. Such high levels are necessary to keep the drug in the blood long enough to do its job, but often produce damaging side effects. Then, within periods ranging from minutes to a few hours, the drug is cleared from the circulation, creating the need for a new dose.
The new technique, designed by Shechter, Prof. Mati Fridkin of the Organic Chemistry Department and Dr. Eytan Gershonov of both departments, is based on a molecular “plug” that attaches to and temporarily blocks the drug’s action. Once the medication enters the circulation, the plug is gradually disconnected. This, the scientists believe, releases relatively low but steady quantities of the drug into the patient’s bloodsream over a long period of time.
The plugs for drugs approach showed promising results when tested with insulin. When diabetic rats were given “plug-modified” insulin, a single injection kept glucose levels at a normal level for two days. In contrast, a single injection of unmodified insulin produced the same effect for only 6-12 hours.
To commercialize the new method, Pamot Venture Capital Fund and the Institute’s technology transfer arm, Yeda Research and Development Ltd., have recently set up a new start-up company, LAPID Pharmaceuticals Ltd.