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TIAP FEATURES: Zucara Therapeutics – Building on Canada’s Rich Research History to Dramatically Change Diabetes Disease Management

“I think people know quite a bit about high blood sugar and the deleterious effects of having high blood sugar. But if you take insulin, you’re afraid of hypoglycemia. You’re afraid almost all the time. You think about it repeatedly throughout the day. If you’re a parent – if I have a son with Type 1 diabetes – I’m afraid for him whenever he goes to sleep. I’m afraid for him when he goes to college or drives a car. It’s something those of us who get hypoglycemia know about and fear all the time.”

Dr. Michael Riddell
Professor, York University
Senior Scientist, LMC Diabetes and Endocrinology, Centricity Research
Chair, Clinical/Scientific Advisory Board, Zucara Therapeutics Inc.


Zucara Therapeutics is well on its way to becoming the next big success story stemming from TIAP’s portfolio of 70+ innovative health science companies.

Having recently announced their most significant milestone to date – the dosing of the first patient in their Phase 2a ‘ZONE’ Trial – Zucara is advancing what could be the first solution to prevent dangerous hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in people with diabetes – an innovation set to improve the health and quality of life of patients globally.

Zucara’s impressive progress is the result of being able to draw upon not only a rich history of diabetes research in Canada, but also a strong and diverse life sciences commercialization ecosystem. The company was created in 2014 by TIAP and adMare BioInnovations based on the work of an academic team led by Drs. Mladen Vranic (Banting and Best Diabetes Centre, University of Toronto) and Michael Riddell (York University), who developed compelling evidence that pancreatic alpha cells that play a key role in regulating hypoglycemia via glucagon production are impaired in Type 1 diabetes. Their discoveries, using novel peptides that block somatostatin receptors, form a technology to restore the normal glucagon response and prevent hypoglycemia onset caused by insulin treatment.

Zucara’s team was initially created with Michael Midmer joining as CEO, transitioning from his role as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at TIAP, and Richard Liggins as CSO having discovered ZT-01, the company’s lead drug candidate while at adMare. Zucara attracted over US$9M in subsequent funding from organizations such as JDRF International, The Helmsley Charitable Trust, NRC-IRAP, MITACS, and GlycoNet. This support was fundamental to Zucara’s advancement of ZT-01 through preclinical and IND/CTA enabling studies to reach the start of Phase 1 clinical trials to secure a US$21M Series A financing led by the Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund. Phase 1 development of ZT-01 has been successful in that ZT-01 was safe and well-tolerated and showed highly-significant proof-of-concept by increasing the glucagon response to hypoglycemia which is impaired in people with T1D.

Zucara’s success to date has clearly been one driven by world-class research, an experienced management team, and a strategically coordinated ecosystem here in Ontario and beyond, built on strong collaboration among diverse partners.


Click here to learn more about the resources TIAP offers to help transform the work of our world-class research institutions into new commercial health innovations and new Ontario-based life sciences ventures…. 

….and follow Zucara on LinkedIn and X to stay apprised of the next big steps in this exciting Canadian life sciences story. 

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