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SBIR Grant to Support Glucagon Made for Artificial Pancreas

Diabetes Test (NIH)

(National Institutes of Health)

National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded Biodel Inc.,  a biopharmaceutical company in Danbury, Connecticut, a Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop a special form of glucagon used in artificial pancreas systems for diabetes patients. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants are awarded by U.S. federal science agencies to encourage smaller enterprises to explore research questions with commercial potential.

The grant will support the reformulation of glucagon, a hormone made in the pancreas that helps raise low blood sugar levels, that can be used in artificial pancreas systems for people with diabetes. An artificial pancreas system combines a continuous glucose monitor with an insulin pump that automatically delivers the needed quantities of insulin. Some artificial pancreas devices cannot yet deliver precise quantities of insulin, however, which can mean providing excess insulin that can lead to low blood sugar, a condition known as hypoglycemia.

Glucagon can limit the the glucose-lowering effects of excess insulin, which makes it useful for patients with an artificial pancreas. Biodel says current glucagon products tend to break down in solutions or under high temperatures, and the company is already developing a more stable form of glucagon as a rescue treatment for hypoglycemia, now under review by the Food and Drug Administration.

The new SBIR grant will fund development of a special formulation of stable glucagon designed for use in artificial pancreas systems to minimize the occurrence of hypoglycemia. The two-year grant, totaling $582,763, is provided by NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

In July, Biodel received an SBIR grant to develop concentrated faster-acting insulin formulations for use in an artificial pancreas. That two-year grant was also awarded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

SBIR, and companion Small Business Technology Transfer, grants at NIH are provided to smaller enterprises in the U.S., in two phases. Phase 1 grants cover exploratory and proof-of-concept studies, run for six months, and do not exceed $150,000. Phase 2 grants support development of products based on the initial research, can run for up to two years, and have a maximum funding of $1 million.

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