Winter 2019

Manitoba Chamber of Commerce

Issue link: http://publications.winnipegfreepress.com/i/1190718

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12 WINTER 2019 SCIMAR S ciMar Ltd., a Dauphin-based life sciences company, is advancing a powerful research initiative to stem the tide of the global Type 2 diabetes epidemic. "The worldwide explosion of Type 2 diabetes is frightening and we see the effects of it in Manitoba in a significant way, given the prominence of this terrible disease in our Indigenous communities," says Mick Lautt, SciMar's Chief Executive Officer. "Prevention initiatives have been largely unsuccessful around the world, and the treatment paradigm has lagged. We aim to change the story." According to the World Health Organization, the number of people living with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Left unchecked, some believe that by 2035, about 600 million people will have Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to kidney failure, stroke, heart attacks, lower limb amputations, and death. "Our research will inform new prevention strategies and will lead to a suite of products to diagnose and prevent the disease," says Lautt. "For people who are already diabetic, we are working on ways to halt the disease's progression and even reverse it." SciMar's work is based on the discoveries of Dr. Wayne Lautt, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Manitoba. In 1996, Dr. Lautt discovered a previously unidentified hormone secreted by the liver. He was struck by the hormone's impact on metabolic health and how it affects the body's uptake of glucose. He dubbed the hormone "hepatic insulin-sensitizing substance" or HISS, for short. Dr. Lautt and his colleagues learned that when there is an adequate supply of HISS, the body can partition glucose effectively into muscle. When there is an inadequate supply of HISS, the pancreas produces additional insulin, which causes nutrient energy to be partitioned into fat. The goal of the work is to confirm ways to keep the production of HISS and insulin in appropriate balance. "It's a process called nutrient partitioning and we believe that this approach is the missing link in our understanding of obesity and Type 2 diabetes," says Dr. Lautt, who has published over 220 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. "Everything we have been doing in the lab has been validating our hypotheses and we are confident that our next clinical trials will position us to change the course of Type 2 diabetes." Through the early years of his work, Dr. Lautt and his colleagues attracted numerous research grants to move the work forward. In 2009, Dr. Lautt, his wife Melanie, and son Mick established SciMar Ltd. to ready themselves to attract investors and to work together toward the commercialization of a product pipeline. The company opened the door to investors in 2017 and enthusiastic investors from the Parkland Region walked right in. SciMar's seed round attracted nearly $3 million from 28 initial investors, almost all from the Dauphin area. The initial investment allowed SciMar to expand its research staff, purchase state-of- the-art research tools and equipment, and rent space in the world-class Albrechtsen Research Centre at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. DAUPHIN-BASED BUSINESS ADVANCES DIABETES SOLUTION Innovative research took root in 1996

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