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By Jon Delano
January 23, 2023 / 7:21 PM / CBS Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A French biotech company developing a new type 2 diabetes drug is opening its American headquarters in Pittsburgh.
KDKA money editor Jon Delano spoke with the company’s chairman on Monday afternoon to find out what this all means.
More than one in every ten adults who are 20 and older has diabetes.  And for seniors, it’s more like one in four has diabetes, with type 2 diabetes accounting for over 90 percent of the cases.
“Diabetes, unfortunately, is rising in prevalence. It’s a silent tide that’s growing. For example, if you look at the American Diabetes Association and their figures, over 37 million Americans or about 11.7 percent of the population had diabetes,” says Dr. Amit Bhargava, vice chair of endocrinology at the Allegheny Health Network.
Now a French biotech company, Adipo Pharma, is developing a new drug to combat diabetes and is opening its American headquarters at the old AGH Suburban Hospital site in Bellevue.
“Adipo Pharma is dedicated to having the first product ever to put in humans to tackle insulin resistance itself, to get to the main root of type 2 diabetes. We think this is going to be a fundamental breakthrough,” says Jim Nolan, chair of Adipo Pharma.
The company builds on medical research by a French doctor to reverse the type 2 diabetic body’s need for insulin injections, giving hope to many diabetic patients.
“What he did is he worked very hard to restore normal lipid flow and when you do that, in all the experiments that we’ve done, we start reversing and ending those complications and problems associated with diabetes. So we think this is really going to be a fundamental change in treatment.”
Nolan says physicians today treat diabetes in many ways but often with the injection of insulin.  Adipo Pharma is experimenting with a way to keep patients off insulin or ultimately wean patients off insulin.
“You really want to prevent people from going on insulin in the first place, and that’s the beauty of this drug. The goal is to develop a treatment that ultimately postpones that or ends the need for that as you go on in the future,” says Nolan.
Nolan won’t call it a cure because Type 2 diabetes is often brought on by lifestyle issues – lack of exercise, poor diet, too much belly fat and the like.
“I’m careful about using the word ‘cure’ because it’s a lifestyle and as long as people aren’t doing the proper diet and the proper exercise, we’ll have the risk of getting the disease. But this will really change the way it’s managed,” Nolan says. 
“It’s a little early since obviously this research is going on, but the hope is if we can help the body function more efficiently, we need less outside therapy to help maintain blood sugar control,” adds Dr. Bhargava.
“The team that we’re going to guide out of Pittsburgh are really here to do the clinical work, the clinical trials necessary to get this drug approved and on the marketplace,” says Nolan.
“And all the coordination with that – it’s a pretty sophisticated process that involves not just our company but all sorts of suppliers and groups that help you as you go through that effort – so we’re hoping to really utilize the expertise in our region to really make this possible and really have the company grow.”
Those clinical trials could take years, but Dr. Bhargava, who is not associated with Adipo Pharma, says it makes sense for Adipo Pharma to make Pittsburgh its U.S. base.
“Pittsburgh is really growing as a hub for technology and innovation. And I think it is fantastic that they’ve chosen us as a location to launch this, and hopefully looking at conducting some good clinical trials here,” Bhargava said. 
An estimated 1.5 million Pennsylvanians have diabetes with another 300,000 who have it and don’t know it. Then there are the 3.5 million Pennsylvanians who are pre-diabetic, meaning their blood sugar levels are higher than normal.  
Bottom line: there are lots of people here who could take part in Adipo Pharma’s clinical trials.  
Jon Delano is a familiar face on KDKA, having been the station’s political analyst since 1994. In September 2001, Jon joined KDKA full time as the Money & Politics Editor and this region’s only political analyst who covers national and local issues that affect hometown residents.
First published on January 23, 2023 / 7:21 PM
© 2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
©2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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