Type 2 diabetes results from inadequate insulin production to control blood glucose. To address this need for replacing lost insulin-producing beta cells, most therapeutic development strategies are focused on enhancing functional beta cell number. Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals is pursuing therapies that enhance beta cell function and regeneration and is based on prior research in which inactivation of follistatin-like-3 (FSTL3) resulted in enlarged islets, increased beta cell number, and enhanced insulin secretion. At least some of these new beta cells arose from alpha to beta cell transdifferentiation in FSTL3 knockout mice. Fairbanks has produced a monoclonal antibody (FP-101) that can completely block FSTL3 from binding activin A and B, GDF11, and myostatin that could also disrupt pre-formed and otherwise irreversible complexes. FP-101 was also able to restore glucose-responsive insulin secretion in otherwise non-functional islets taken from HFD-fed mice. To determine if FSTL3 neutralization could be effective in humans, human islets from normal donors were first exposed to elevated glucose (25 nM) for 48-72 hours, a commonly utilized model for glucotoxicity. As expected, this caused loss of glucose response to subsequent GSIS. However, when treated for 24 hours with FP-101, GSIS was restored, indicating that neutralization of FSTL3 might be an effective strategy for restoring function to human non-functional islets. This observation agrees with previous research in which activin treatment directly restored GSIS in human islets from diabetic donors. Taken together with the potential for induction of alpha to beta cell transdifferentiation, these results suggest that neutralization of FSTL3 may have a dual benefit with acute restoration of GSIS in non-functional islets and chronic treatment leading to restoration of beta cell number through enhancement of alpha to beta cell transdifferentiation. In vivo studies will be initiated shortly.


A. Schneyer: Stock/Shareholder; Self; Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals, Inc.. Stock/Shareholder; Spouse/Partner; Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals, Inc.. Employee; Self; Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals, Inc.. M. Brown: None.

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