The holy grail of treating disease: Intarcia

Disruptor Intarcia Therapeutics to shake up healthcare?
Disruptor Intarcia Therapeutics to shake up healthcare?   

This week CNBC released its annual Disruptor 50 list of private companies that are revolutionizing their industries with innovative technology. After all, sometimes a company will have something that is so cutting edge that it will impact the entire direction of where a sector could be heading.

Finding the next big privately held company has also been something Jim Cramer is passionate about, which is why "Mad Money" frequently has its Off the Tape segment to highlight up and coming private companies.

Intarcia Therapeutics made its debut on CNBC's Disruptor list as No. 29. It is a biotech company that is committed to finding a better way to treat diabetes. Recent research indicates that less than half of those on medication for Type 2 diabetes stay on those drugs for an entire year, which can cause complications.

This length of time can often deter patients from taking their medication on a regular basis, or even at all, which will cease the drug from being effective. To find a solution to this problem, Intarcia developed a two-inch rod that is implanted under the patient's skin to deliver a slow, steady dose of a major Type 2 diabetes drug, Extenatide.


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Kurt Graves, CEO of Intarcia Therapeutics.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Kurt Graves, CEO of Intarcia Therapeutics.

Intarcia's product is a huge improvement over the current solution of receiving injections once a week. Currently, this formulation is in phase three clinical trials, which could disrupt the pipelines of pharmaceutical companies around the world.

To find out more of how this company is disrupting the pharma world, Cramer spoke with Intarcia Therapeutics CEO Kurt Graves.

He explained that Intarcia targets major chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. What makes this company unique is its combination of technology and medicine.

The largest challenge for treating diabetes is that studies show that as much as 80 percent of people stop taking their medication within one year of starting therapy. Graves noted that some may find it difficult to take the medication, as often people with diabetes have other conditions such as hypertension and obesity that require them to be on multiple medications and maintain a certain diet at the same time.

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"What's amazing is that our chemists figured out a way to stabilize drugs at a high temperature for years, which is like the holy grail of peptide chemistry," Graves said.

Once the company was able to develop medicine that could be stabilized for a long period of time, it then acquired a mini-pump technology, which uses a rod the size of a small matchstick, and added enhancements to it.

"It will make a big difference for patients, and that's what is most important," the CEO added.

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