Summary for the general public

Clinical trials

CADET aims to develop new treatments by translating its laboratory-based discoveries through to the clinic.  The first drug that CADET is working on is for treating major complications of diabetes.  This drug is called trientine (also triethylenetetramine or TETA).  It is a type of metal chelator; this means it mops up and removes metal ions from the body.  In the case of trientine, it is highly selective for a form of copper called copper(II).  We have shown that in diabetes, there is too much copper(II) in the body, and this excess copper(II) catalyses toxic chemical reactions that lead to tissue damage.  Our work, including non-clinical experiments and early phase clinical trials, has shown that the excess copper(II) in diabetes plays a central role in the development of damage to the heart and kidney and that treating with trientine can slow down and even reverse these diabetic 'complications'.  A particularly helpful aspect of this work is that trientine (which comes as orally delivered capsules) is already used to treat a rare condition called Wilson’s disease, making it easier to translate its use into a therapy for diabetes compared with a substance that has not previously been used as a drug. The mass spectrometry facilities in CADET allow us to monitor drug and copper levels in blood and urine and therefore to gain a deeper understanding of how the drug is working.