Sue Marshall blogs about diabetes for Desang

Sirona Biochem’s new scientific advisor | November 3, 2009

Sirona Biochem Corp. (TSX-V: SBM), an emerging biotech drug development company focused on diabetes and obesity, announced today the appointment of Professor Michael Walker, PhD, one of Canada’s leading biotech start-up company pioneers, to its Scientific Advisory Board.

Sirona Biochem CEO Dr. Howard Verrico said, “Professor Walker is one of Canada’s preeminent pioneers in the biotech industry. It is perhaps an understatement to say we are very fortunate in having attracted him to join our Scientific Advisory Board as his wealth of experience in research and pharmacology will be of inestimable value as we grow our company and meet the challenges of developing drugs to fight diabetes and obesity.

“Sirona Biochem will also benefit from Professor Walker’s experience as a chief executive of Verona Pharma, which is a publicly listed company in London, UK, as we are also on a path to attract and increase investment in our company from not only North America, but also Europe.”

Professor Walker has been a director and CEO of Verona Pharma since September 2006. He is an Emeritus Professor at the Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of British Columbia, Canada and has founded and managed various biotech companies in Canada and the UK.

Sirona Biochem owns the worldwide product rights to a library of unique sodium glucose transporter (SGLT) inhibitors to treat diabetes and obesity. SGLT inhibitors help block the reuptake of excess sugars from urine, which can then reduce high blood sugar towards normal levels.

The management of sugar metabolism is a primary medical challenge associated with treating diabetes and obesity and that is why SGLT inhibitors show such promise in this regard.

Sirona Biochem has a strategic partnership with TFChem, a drug discovery company based in Rouen, France. TFChem licenses its technology of fluorinated carbohydrate mimics: GlycoMim®, and products in development, to biotech companies. This strategic partnership was completed by a detailed research and licence agreement signed one year ago.

Over 2 million Canadians and more than 23 million Americans have diabetes. The diabetes drug market reached US$18 billion in 2005, and is expected to increase to $21-25 billion by 2011.

Obesity has also become a major health problem for many post-industrial societies, so much so that in 2004, the United States Health and Human Services declared obesity to be a disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that globally, in 2005, 1.6 billion adults were overweight with at least 400 million adults obese. By 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and 700 million will be obese. Obesity poses a major health risk because it greatly increases the risk of co-morbidities such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and cancer.


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