Shanghai, China – MicroPort Scientific Corporation ("MPSC") (HK: 853) and its subsidiary recently signed an investment agreement with US-based Zenomics, Inc., announcing $5.8 million infusion of capital into Zenomics by MPSC, and in exchange MPSC obtains a 21% ownership stake in Zenomics. Meanwhile, Shanghai MicroPort Lifesciences Co., Ltd. ("MicroPort® Lifesciences"), a subsidiary of MPSC, signed a Technology License Agreement with Zenomics which provides MicroPort® Lifesciences with intellectual property rights, such as patents and know-how, related with the Drug-Release Platform of Zenomics.
Zenomics, a Research Triangle Park ("RTP") startup co-founded by Zhen Gu, PhD, a scientist in the UNC-NC State Joint Biomedical Engineering Program, is a company dedicated to developing innovative drug delivery systems that enhance health and improve quality of life. The company focuses on the development of the transformative glucose-responsive insulin delivery devices for intelligently controlling release of insulin and regulating blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. Zenomics has Dr. Robert Langer in its Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Langer is one of 13 Institute Professors and the Kenneth J. Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also one of very few people ever elected to all three US National Academies.
The microneedles – hundreds of which fit onto the coin-sized patch or other smart device platform – feature microscopic storage units for insulin and glucose-sensing components. When blood sugar levels get too high, the microneedles automatically release insulin, combining the testing with the insulin injection in a pain-free and perfectly timed manner that requires little to no effort by the person wearing the device. The findings that the smart insulin patch could lower blood glucose in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes for up to nine hours was first published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in June 2015, and the picture of the "smart" insulin patch was selected as Top 10 Science Images in Science Magazine in the same year.
"The smart insulin delivery is inspired by the interaction between glucose and glucose-sensitive moiety, which is integrated into a transcutaneous patch. This smart patch can sense increased blood sugar level and subsequently release insulin in a fast manner, and can reduces the risk of hypoglycemia," said Professor Gu, Co-founder and Chairman of Zenomics. "In addition, the technology is painless and it also lessens human error, so that you receive a more accurate blood-sugar controlling."
According to World Health Organization, the number of people with diabetes has risen to 422 million in 2014, and the global prevalence of diabetes among adults over 18 years of age has increased to 8.5% in 2014. China now has higher rate of diabetes than other countries. Approximately 11.6% of Chinese adults have diabetes, a total of 114 million people. According to the International Diabetes Federation, at current growth rates, there will be about 642 million people living with diabetes by 2040 globally and 150 million of them are Chinese.
"This news is exciting for the nearly 400 million people affected by diabetes worldwide," said John Buse, MD, PhD, the Verne S. Caviness Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Director of the UNC Diabetes Care Center, and Director of the NC TraCS Institute. "These tiny devices have the potential not only to improve health, but enhance quality of life."
As a leading medical device corporation, MPSC founded MicroPort® Lifesciences, a company primarily focuses on the development, manufacturing, monitoring and management of medical devices for the treatment of diabetes and gonadal disorders, in 2008. The partnership with Zenomics will help MPSC and MicroPort® Lifesciences further improve the core technology and promote company development. Meanwhile, with this round of investment funding, Zenomics will continue furthering this technology of "smart" insulin devices, while also recruiting employees to staff its labs. Additional testing will be on large animal models. If the technology were to be effective and efficacious in large animals, clinical trials in humans could follow.
"This agreement represents a key milestone in both companies' development," said Dr. Zhaohua Chang, MPSC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "MPSC will take this opportunity to make the treatment of our diabetes device more precise, minimally invasive and smart. We believe the innovative technology of the 'smart' insulin devices will make life much easier for patients with diabetes and improve their lives."