Arnab De, a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Columbia University , has developed the non-insulin drug candidate in collaboration with Richard DiMarchi of Indiana University.

Patients use insulin to keep their sugar levels in check, an overdose of insulin can lead to low blood-glucose (hypoglycemia), which may cause diabetic-coma and be life-threatening. Insulin treatment has also been reported to cause weight-gain that may exacerbate a diabetic condition, De said.

"We find that there is a peptide hormone in the gut called GLP1 that increases the secretion of insulin only when the  blood glucose is high. This effectively eliminates the risk ofhypoglycemic shock. Another advantage is that GLP1 administration has been found to stimulate weight-loss. The hormone offers the promise of revolutionising the treatment of Type II  diabetes and reduce obesity," he said.  

Regarding the clinical trial of the new drug, De said that GLP-1 has an extremely short half-life of two minutes and this instability has impeded its effective use in patients.

As per to a study published in the journal Peptide Science, De and DiMarchi "envisioned a prodrug of GLP as a means to extend the duration of action" and their research resulted in several range of options for prolonging peptide action to once-a-day and once-a-week formulations.

"Needless to say, this will be very helpful for patients as we might have a formulation that needs to be taken only once a week as opposed to after every meal" De said.

University of Delhi faculty member Subho Mozumdar said the development of a GLP-1 based prodrug represents a patient-friendly, diabetic therapeutic.

"It is a most remarkable  breakthrough which might also help to defend against obesity and  perhaps against Alzheimer's disease too. There is a huge market for such a therapeutic in India given the growing number of patients," Mozumdar said.

As per estimates by The International Diabetes Federation, around one in five individuals suffer from some form of obesity. These individuals are three times more prone to heart attacks or stroke and five times more likely to develop adult-onset of diabetes vis-a-vis individuals without the

Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation (IURTC) has applied for patents internationally on these prodrugs in the world-wide market.

De has been conferred the prestigious Young Investigator’s Award by American Peptide Society.

"I hope going forward this drug essentially helps people. That is when the years of hard work and research will pay off," he added.