Shares in UK biopharmaceutical group Lipoxen were on the rise yesterday following news that its flagship diabetes candidate SuliXen performed well in a Phase I clinical trial and could potentially offer a more potent option than the current market leader Lantus.

SuliXen is a long-acting version of insulin formulated using the company’s proprietary PolyXen technology, which is based on a naturally occurring polymer that is biodegradable, non-immunogenic and non-toxic.

According to the company, the Phase I cross-over study - which involved 12 volunteers and took place in Moscow, Russia – not only showed that SuliXen was well tolerated at both doses tested (0.1IU/kg and 0.3IU/kg), but also that it was more potent than Sanofi-Aventis’ Lantus (insulin glargine), currently the most-prescribed insulin in the world with annual sales of around $2.45 billion.

In addition, the firm said that patients taking SuliXen in the study showed no significant peaks in the glucose infusion rate, and that overall the data “demonstrate that with SuliXen, Lipoxen is well placed to achieve its goal of developing a superior formulation to Lantus”.

The company is certainly hopeful that the drug will be able to take a substantial slice of what is already a multi-billion-dollar market, as says it could offer “a safe and novel insulin formulation that may well be more efficacious and provide a reduced dosing regime to currently marketed insulin products”.

And with the recent tidal wave of new cases of type 2 diabetes – rocketing 74% in the UK in just six years – the need for new, effective therapies is now greater than ever.

“With the World Health Organisation expecting there to be over 300 million diabetes sufferers worldwide by 2025, there is a clear market need for alternative insulin formulations such as SuliXen,” the firm’s chief executive Scott Maguire stressed.