Merck smart insulin project advancing into clinical trials

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On May 6, 2014, Merck held an investor briefing and provided updates on various strategic initiatives, including its smart insulin project acquired in 2010 when it purchased SmartCells.

SmartCells — a diabetes drug-development company that received early support from JDRF — was founded in 2003 by Todd Zion, Ph.D., an MIT chemical engineer who had an idea for developing a smart insulin. While others were skeptical, JDRF saw promise in the fledgling company’s concept for improving the lives of people with T1D.

Smart insulin is a form of insulin that turns on when it’s needed to lower blood sugar and off when blood sugar is at a safe level. Merck refers to its project as a glucose- responsive insulin. Smart insulin is a key research priority for JDRF.

Much remains to be learned about how long and how well each dose of Merck’s smart insulin will work, and it is still years away from becoming a treatment, but this is exciting progress on one of JDRF’s key research investments.