Diabetes drug developed in Winnipeg shows promise

A drug being studied in Winnipeg show promise to help people with diabetic neuropathy.

A local researcher is on the verge of a new drug with the potential to have a huge impact on people with diabetes.

Almost a decade ago, Paul Fernyhough was studying diabetic neuropothy at St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre and the University of Manitoba. He said he stumbled onto something.

“I would never have hypothesized it, all this hypothesized-based research I was doing for years was a bit of a waste of time to be honest.”

He was screening existing drugs when he found a group of compounds that made nerves grow.

Since these compounds had never been used for this before, Fernyhough was able to patent them with the help of the University of Manitoba.

Even then, he knew he couldn’t do it alone and ended up recruiting two other researchers, Nigel Calcutt in San Diego and Lakshmi Kotra in Toronto joined the project. They eventually received funding and formed a company called WinSanTor.

“We decided to commercialize all of this,” Fernyhough said. “You have to set a company up, you can’t do it any other way.”

The team has done roughly 100 studies pm the drug. When tested on animals it works every time. In one study a little tube filled with a cream they developed was put on the back leg of a mouse for 20 minutes a day for two months. At the end of the study the nerves in the leg had grown back.

WinSanTor is now at a crossroads. Take the drug across the finish line or hand it off to a large company in the pharmaceutical industry.

Either way, the team wants to have a big say in how the drug is rolled out and the cost. Fernyhough said he wants to make sure it is affordable.

He told Global News he is very excited with the prospect his research could change millions of lives.

On top of helping people with diabetes, Fernyhough said it will also help chemotherapy and HIV patients with nerve damage.

April 6th, 2018|