FOSTER CITY, Calif.—Biopharma-ceutical company Entelos and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently announced the successful completion of an in silico (computer-simulated) model of the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse, the primary animal model used to study type 1 diabetes.
This accomplishment marks the halfway point of a two-year collaboration between the ADA and Entelos in the area of type 1 diabetes, which goes hand-in-hand with a three-year collaboration related to type 2 diabetes that is now in its final year.
At the heart of both Entelos-ADA collaborations is the PhysioLab platform, which Entelos has also used for in silico modeling of such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, cholesterol metabolism, metabolic syndromes and respiratory ailments.
With this latest milestone, it is hoped that researchers will be able to use the PhysioLab to study the NOD mouse model on the computer and gain better insights into the pathophysiology of diabetes—essentially "translating" what is observed in the animal model to human response.
"If we understand the underpinnings of the mouse model better, we can find out why many promising therapies have worked well in the mouse model but have failed when applied to man," says Mikhail Gishizky, chief scientific officer for Entelos. "There are both qualitative and quantitative differences between preclinical models, like the NOD mouse, and the humans who would receive clinical care. Many of these differences aren't adequately taken into account and on a systemwide basis, small differences can add up and have huge impacts on preclinical efficacy vs. clinical efficacy."
One of the ADA's key roles in the collaboration is helping to connect Entelos' programmers and engineers with people in the healthcare and research community who understand the workings of diabetes. In fact, the ADA provides Entelos with it scientific advisory committee for diabetes.
The relationship benefits the ADA financially because the association gets a percentage of fees for proprietary use of PhysioLab for diabetes applications. The ADA has already used funds generated from the type 2 diabetes collaboration to help fund the type 1 diabetes collaboration, according to Scott Campbell, ADA's national vice president for research programs.
"The primary reason we are involved in this, though, is that we want to help streamline the identification and validation process so that therapies for people with diabetes can be made better and can come to market more quickly," he says.
Gishizky has been pleased with the process of working with the ADA and says he looks forward to the rest of the collaborative work—and work his company may do in the future with the association and with other entities.
"What's special about what we do [with PhysioLab] is that we bring the engineers and life scientists together," he says. "That allows the design engineers to talk right to the scientists and find out what about biological problems are unique. That is then translated into our mathematical models."Campbell says that the original type 2 diabetes project with Entelos was highly oriented toward pharmaceutical issues. Although the type 1 diabetes effort has pharmaceutical applications as well, he says that ADA plans a greater push this time to use the PhysioLab models to help advance diabetes research overall. To that end, funds generated from licensing of the PhysioLab diabetes models may be used to help fund general researchers in the area of diabetes, particularly in terms of helping them access technology like PhysioLab.