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SciMar Changing The Narrative On Type 2 Diabetes

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SciMar Ltd. has its roots in an unexpected scientific discovery 30 years ago and today, the Dauphin-based biotech company is set to change the way the world understands and deals with Type 2 Diabetes.

SciMar is set to release a nutraceutical, SciMar NuPa Daily, in the new year aimed at preventing the damage to body systems typically caused by diabetes, bring to market a new diagnostic tool, SciMar NuPa Test, which can highlight potential problems as far as 20 years out and institutionalize its Wellness Transformation Network to provide education around healthy lifestyles.

It is holistic approach to combatting a disease which affects approximately 600 million people worldwide.

“Our diagnostic will catch it early. It’s early screening and it’s accessible screening, that’s what we’re trying to create. Once you know where you’re at in the progression of the disease . . . what we’ve done is we’ve created the preventative, the nutraceutical, that if you start taking daily it will protect the body at a cellular level and stop the progression of the disease while you work on lifestyle change,” SciMar CEO Mick Lautt said. “And then we have our therapeutic for people who are well along the path to disease or already diagnosed.”

SciMar is set to move that Therapeutic into stage 2 clinical phase 2B human trials this winter.

“So it is quite far along,” Lautt said, adding they expect to have the treatment option in the North American marketplace in as little as four years.

The hormone-based therapeutic has its roots in the liver regeneration research of Lautt’s father, SciMar co-founder and chief science officer Dr. Wayne Lautt.

During his research at the University of Manitoba 30 years ago, Dr. Lautt discovered his test subjects were all developing type 2 diabetes. A deeper look into the situation isolated a hormone produced in the liver, hepatalin, which is missing in diabetes patients.

The hormone, he discovered, is responsible for two-thirds of nutrient partitioning and unlike insulin, which removes excess sugar from the blood and shunts it to fat, hepatalin takes excess sugar and stores it in muscle. SciMar is also working on producing a synthetic version of the hormone.

“As you progress further down the state of the disease from very early on to full-blown type 2 diabetic, your ability to release hepatalin in response to a meal diminishes over time. So this hormone’s absolutely missing in type 2 diabetics,” Lautt said, adding he and his father formed SciMar in 2009 to bring the science from the academic world to the market.

“This is a major paradigm shift of our understanding of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”

The loss of hepatalin, combined with a sedentary lifestyle, a high intake of processed sugar, high levels of stress and aging is the cause of the major problems associated with type 2 diabetes.

“With those four kind of lifestyle insults we lose the ability to release hepatalin first. Insulin remains, so for the first 10 or 20 years your body compensates by just pushing out more insulin to bring your blood sugars down,” Lautt said. “So for a while we kind of get away with that. But if that happens chronically, then all the pathologies associated with diabetes start to show up.”

Projections are that one in every two people in Canada will become type 2 diabetic and 80 per cent of indigenous youth in Canada will develop the disease.

“Why is that number acceptable?” Lautt asked, adding SciMar’s diagnostic test, which they hope to have on the market in two years offers an easy-to-use option that can be accessed in remote locations and is able to detect problems up to 20 years before the glucose test which is the current standard.

That early detection leads into SciMar’s nutraceutical, a combination of three anti-oxidant vitamins which protect cells from the ravages of sugar and, perhaps most importantly, the Wellness Transformation Network.

The community outreach portion of the approach is a partnership with mission driven powerful organizations that are “fighting the good fight on the front lines,” Lautt said, such as The Reh-Fit Centre and Youville.

“Regardless of where you are on the disease progression changing your lifestyle can have a huge impact,” Lautt said. “We’re all about promoting. We’re saying ‘look if we can convince people and empower all of those groups out there, the communities that are doing the work on the front lines to help people make lifestyle changes, if we can work with them and empower them with our diagnostic and with our screening tools and we can measure the impact of those interventions in a really detailed way that’s vetted by Health Canada, that’s powerful. That’s powerful data that can help people make those changes. So we’re saying let’s do early screening, let’s get people on our preventative, but more importantly let’s give them the support and the education needed so they can change their trajectory towards this disease through lifestyle change,” Lautt added. “It’s diet, it’s exercise, it’s time in nature, it’s mental, it’s spirituality, it’s all those pieces to make your human self whole and healthy.”

For Lautt, his role with SciMar is more than a job, it’s a calling to have a positive impact on the world by ending a disease which kills millions and costs billions in health care spending.

The approach right now is to take a small bite by eradicating the disease in pockets of Manitoba, which has some of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the world.

Once the effectiveness of SciMar’s regime is demonstrated, they will scale it globally.

And SciMar has 35 staff and consultants spread across the country right in research facilities all focussed on the ultimate goal.

“We kind of want to put ourselves out of business here. Our goal, our mission in this whole thing is to eradicate type 2 diabetes. It’s not to make money, it’s our mission to eradicate the disease by informing the world of this novel discovery. It’s through the lens of hepatalin that we’re going to solve this global problem."

Lautt believes it is conceivable that in 30 or 40 years, if SciMar is successful in educating the world about the science, lifestyles have changed dramatically and society has changed workplace environments and how it markets food, a future generation might just avoid the scourge of diabetes.

“But my guess is that our market will never be too small. It’s the largest market there is in the world for almost any health-related issue, so we can work as hard as we can to eradicate our market and still give a fantastic return to our investors,” Lautt said. “But doing it in a way that is 100 per cent ethical because our whole point is to put ourselves out of business. There’s just not a lot of opportunities to change the world, save millions, literally millions of lives and billions of dollars and make a lot of money at the same time. It’s a win-win-win.”

With SciMar poised to alter the course of human health, Lautt is proud to be leading the mission from the Parkland. Dauphin is where SciMar was born, he said, and Dauphin is where it will stay.

After founding SciMar, Lautt worked behind the scenes for the better part of a decade before bringing SciMar’s vision into the light. When it came time to raise seed money, Lautt gathered friends, associates and acquittances at Countryfest Community Cinema to share SciMar’s story.

In six months the company had raised $2.3 million with 90 investors coming from Dauphin.

In the last 3-1/2 years, $9.5 million has been raised with half coming from the Parkland, Lautt said, adding SciMar’s employees outside of Dauphin view residents of the community as amazing authentic people.

“All the investors we have right now, they believe in what we’re doing, they’re committed to the mission and they know the value that can come if this goes the way it’s going,” Lautt said.

Lautt himself is humbled everyday by the commitment and the trust the community has shown towards SciMar.

“We’re changing the world from Dauphin. . .. from Dauphin. And it blows people away when I tell them that,” Lautt said. “Dauphin’s got a lot of press about being the little prairie community that’s solving the world’s biggest problem. So it’s pretty exciting.”

Anyone interested in learning more about SciMar’s journey to this point can check out their podcast Inside the Breakthrough, which is narrated by Daily Planet host Dan Riskin and has been nominated for three Podcast of the Year Awards.