Xeris Pharmaceuticals: Combating Hypoglycemia with Simplicity
John Shannon, COO
As per the National Diabetes Statistics Report 2017, 1 in 10 Americans and approximately 1 in 3 American adults suffer from diabetes and prediabetes, respectively. The consequences of severe diabetes can be lethal, often culminating in kidney failures, heart attacks, amputations, nerve damage, and more. However, one must take into account that drastic measures to keep diabetes in check or aggressively treating it can be equally damaging, resulting in life-threatening bouts of hypoglycemia. Situations as such demand immediate attention before patients are incapacitated by seizures or even slip into coma. Chicago-based Xeris Pharmaceuticals is developing an apt solution to rise to the predicament of diabetic patients—a silver bullet in the hour of need. The specialty pharmaceutical company, Xeris, is developing a proprietary formulation technology— XeriSol™—for the delivery of highly concentrated, non-aqueous, ready-to-use, room temperature stable formulation of the peptide, glucagon.
The chief operating officer of Xeris, John Shannon, attributes the success of the company to the relentless efforts of one of its co-founders, Steve Prestrelski, the chief scientific officer at Xeris, and his team. A formulation technology scientist, Prestrelski and his team have dedicated a decade of their careers in architecting non-aqueous delivery systems for drugs that are unstable in water. Shannon goes on to say, “The persistent endeavor of the Xeris team is what helped us craft the XeriSol technology, specifically, creating the first and only room temperature liquid stable glucagon.”
Glucagon is a peptide unstable in water that has so far been difficult to formulate in a ready-to-use format. With XeriSol technology, glucagon is put in a liquid form available for immediate use. “We have also added a 2-step auto-injector devise that can be used for people with diabetes in an emergent case of acute hypoglycemia,” adds Shannon. In contrast, in adverse situations like this, a caregiver generally has to follow nine different steps with glucagon emergency kits that are currently available on the market—a difficult task in an emergency situation.
The persistent endeavor of the Xeris team is what helped us craft the XeriSol technology, specifically, creating the first and only room temperature liquid stable glucagon
The XeriSol technology along with the auto-injector makes administering glucagon easier and more efficient, assuring millions of diabetic patients, especially on insulin, another option in the case of a severe hypoglycemic event. “If approved by FDA, our revolutionary technology may help patients and their families, healthcare professionals, and payers tackle such situations with a rescue solution at hand without having to rely on the existing emergency kits, which people fail to administer correctly the majority of the time,” continues Shannon.
Speaking about the company’s culture, Shannon proudly mentions that the Xeris team is highly motivated owing to the benefits that the ready-to-use glucagon can bring to the healthcare space. “In addition to hypoglycemia, the ready-to-use glucagon is being studied in other critical hypoglycemic conditions like Post-Bariatric Hypoglycemia, Hypoglycemia-Associated Autonomic Failure (HAAF), Congenital Hyperinsulinism, and more,” explains Shannon. These significant strides toward a better quality of care for people who experience severe hypoglycemic conditions function as the impetus for the Xeris team. “When it comes to a ready-to-use liquid stable form of glucagon, there are bigger organizations that failed to come up with an intuitive, elegant solution like ours. Xeris persisted.”
The company is also conducting a program with Diazepam to create a ready-to-use liquid form in an easy-to-use autoinjector approach for epileptic seizures.
While a product—mainly small molecules and peptides—is formulated into a stable, ready-to-use liquid in XeriSol, larger molecules are suspended in an injectable XeriJect paste that can pass through a needle, just like a liquid, then is reconstituted using the body’s water.
Currently, Xeris plans to commercialize glucagon rescue pen in the US; look for potential commercialization partners outside the US; and aims to collaborate with European and Asian countries.
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