Biopharmaceutical company Peptor announced today that it will begin a multicenter Phase II clinical trial in the United States of its experimental diabetes drug DiaPep277. The peptide-based drug has been shown in a published study to stop the progression of type 1 diabetes (formerly known as juvenile diabetes).

DiaPep277 will be tested against latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), a disease in which, like type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys beta cells in the pancreas, rendering the body unable to synthesize its own insulin. LADA patients, who are often incorrectly diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes, may comprise 10-20% -- or up to 3.2 million -- of American adults suffering from type 2 diabetes.

"We are excited about beginning this new phase of clinical development for DiaPep277," said Joachim Bender, Ph.D., Vice President, Business Development and Managing Director, Peptor GmbH. "We believe that the results of this trial will corroborate those of our other studies, which have demonstrated that DiaPep277 can prevent the progress of type 1 diabetes by modulating the immune system, without compromising that system."

Peptor has completed three Phase II studies and is conducting four additional international multicenter Phase II trials in Europe and Israel of DiaPep277 against type 1 diabetes and a European Phase II study against LADA.

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Most LADA patients are initially misdiagnosed after age 40 as having type 2 diabetes, the more common form of the disease in which the body produces insulin but is unable to utilize it. Type 2 diabetes patients can control their disease with exercise, dietary modification, weight control and ongoing blood sugar monitoring as well as medication, but often do not require the insulin injections needed by all type 1 and the majority of LADA patients.

There are an estimated 10¿12 million people in the United States, Europe, and Japan with autoimmune diabetes (including type 1 diabetes and LADA). There is currently no way to treat the underlying cause of autoimmune diabetes or to halt the progression of the disease.

Even with the use of external insulin, type 1 diabetes and LADA usually result in a drastic reduction in quality of life and late stage complications, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system damage, amputations, dental disease, and pregnancy complications. People with this condition have a lifespan that is, on average, 10-15 years shorter than the norm.

Peptor is a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of immunotherapeutic drugs to treat autoimmune diseases and cancers. Peptor has a number of autoimmune drugs in its research pipeline and is using its technologies to develop cancer therapies as well. Founded in 1993, Peptor is based in Rehovot, Israel and Erkrath, Germany.