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Scientist at work: Richard DiMarchi

Diabetes affects nearly 21 million children and adults in the United States -- about 1 in 15 Americans. Part of living with diabetes is dealing with hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, a problem that affects everyone who has diabetes at one time or another. Hypoglycemia can lead to dizziness, headache, sudden behavior changes, even seizures and loss of consciousness.

In cases of severe hypoglycemia, glucagon, an injectable substance, raises blood sugar levels. Richard DiMarchi, chair of the Chemistry Department at IU Bloomington, is developing a glucagon-like drug into a product that can be administered quickly and simply via an injector pen to people experiencing diabetic shock.

DiMarchi, Richard

IU Bloomington Chemistry Chair Richard DiMarchi

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The new drug and delivery system is the first technology to be developed by Marcadia Biotech, a biopharmaceutical company founded as PhySci Pharmaceuticals by DiMarchi and others. The Indiana University Research & Technology Corp. has signed a licensing agreement with Marcadia Biotech to develop medical drugs created in DiMarchi's IUB chemistry laboratory. DiMarchi uses biochemical and proteomics techniques to quicken the discovery of protein drugs that may effectively treat metabolic diseases. Headed by CEO Fritz French, the Carmel, Ind.-based company is especially focused on facilitating treatments for those who suffer from diabetes and obesity, with all scientific discovery research taking place in Bloomington.

In August 2006, DiMarchi was honored by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels for his work in creating a synthetic glucagons and other new drugs. Marcadia Biotech recently received a $2 million 21st Century Research and Technology Award from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. in support of DiMarchi's glucagon analog technology, which is not yet available to patients.

Marcadia also signed a separate sponsored research agreement with IU Bloomington to provide DiMarchi's work with ongoing funding. The agreements among Marcadia Biotech, IURTC and IU Bloomington create a framework for the translation of DiMarchi lab discoveries -- present and future -- into potentially life-saving technologies.

This month, DiMarchi was given the Carothers Award by the Delaware section of the American Chemical Society for his numerous contributions in seeing that outstanding basic science discoveries find their way to a needy public. It is hardly the first major award the chemist has received, and neither will it be the last.

DiMarchi is also the Jack and Linda Gill distinguished chair in biomolecular science.