A different way to attack diabetes

A new type of diabetes drug from Bristol, AstraZeneca in early stages of experimentation; Glaxo working on similar drug.

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

CHICAGO (CNNMoney.com) -- Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca are working on a new type of diabetes drug, and early-stage test results in humans have showed that the experimental drug, called dapagliflozin, could control blood-sugar levels in diabetics and appears to be safe.

"The idea is to lower blood-sugar levels in a different way," said Dr. Bernard Komoroski, senior research investigator for the New York-based drugmaker Bristol.

Dr. Bernard, who presented early-stage study results on dapagliflozin late Sunday at the annual conference of the American Diabetes Association, said that the drug manages blood sugar levels by controlling the way sugar is processed in the kidneys. This would help diabetics, who suffer dangerous fluctuations in their blood sugar levels.

Bristol's two-week study of 47 patients showed that the most common side effects of the drug were constipation, nausea and diarrhea in some of the patients, and there were two reports of hypoglycemia, or exceedingly low blood sugar.

Dapagliflozin is the most advanced member of an experimental drug class known as SGLT2 inhibitor, though it is still years away from entering the market, assuming that more advanced tests are successful. GlaxoSmithKline (up $0.27 to $52.10, Charts) is also working on an SGLT2 inhibitor, but its experimental drug is in even earlier stages than the one from Bristol (up $0.37 to $31.77, Charts, Fortune 500) and AstraZeneca (up $0.46 to $51.71, Charts).

On Monday at the ADA, Bristol and AstraZeneca will announce late-stage study results on saxagliptin, another experimental diabetes drug that is a member of the same drug class (DPP-4 inhibitor) as Merck's (up $0.52 to $49.07, Charts, Fortune 500) Januvia, and may compete with it. Top of page