Gut Microbiome-altering Drug Could Offer New Treatment for Diabetes


An experimental, first-in-class drug that affects the gut microbiota has been shown to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in adults with prediabetes.

Study results presented at ICE/ENDO 2014, the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and The Endocrine Society, demonstrated that the GI microbiome modulator NM504, made by MicroBiome Therapeutics, improved glucose tolerance in adult patients with prediabetes after four weeks of treatment without any dietary modifications.

The study involved 28 patients with prediabetes. Fourteen patients received NM504 twice a day for four weeks and 14 received placebo. Participants had blood glucose levels checked at baseline and again after four weeks of treatment, each time after drinking a concentrated glucose drink.

NM504 contains “concentrated bioactive food ingredients,” including insulin, beta-glucan, fiber, and polyphenolic antioxidant compounds. It is designed to modify the gut microbiota and their environment “in specific ways to achieve improved health outcomes.”

According to a news release from The Endocrine Society, “blood sugar levels at 120 and 180 minutes after the glucose challenge were significantly lower in subjects who took NM504 than those who received the placebo.” Test results also showed that NM504 increased insulin sensitivity and decreased patients’ desire to eat. The drug was well tolerated, with only mild side effects.

According to lead investigator Mark Heiman, PhD, chief scientific officer for MicroBiome Therapeutics, “modern Western diets contribute to development of Type 2 diabetes, in part because they change the habitat of the microorganisms that reside in the gut. This shifts the microbial populations that live there in ways that affect metabolic health.”

Heiman also said the GI microbiome is a new therapeutic target “that has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.”

MicroBiome Therapeutics plans to develop NM504 and/or a closely related therapeutic as a prescription medicine to treat prediabetes and diabetes.

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