$29M investment to develop new treatment for type 2 diabetes
June 12, 2020
An orally administered treatment for type 2 diabetes (T2D), which mirrors the astonishing effect of gastric bypass surgery in improving sugar control in diabetes patients, has received a Series A investment of AU$29m.
The funding round for biopharmaceutical company, Glyscend Therapeutics, was led by Brandon Capital’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and US healthcare investor, Santé Ventures, with support from Breakout Labs, a fund in the Thiel Foundation, owned by PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel.
Glyscend’s proprietary therapy mimics the astonishing impact of gastric bypass surgery in improving sugar control in patients with T2D, but without the risk associated with the invasive surgery.
Developing Glyscend’s polymer technology has to date been a global collaboration between researchers from The Johns Hopkins University Hospital (US) and two of the world’s leading diabetes and metabolic experts, Professor Michael Horowitz and Professor Chris Rayner, from the Centre of Research Excellence in Translating Nutritional Science to Good Health, based at the University of Adelaide and Royal Adelaide Hospital.
“This is yet another great example of our world-class Australian researchers contributing their expertise to global health research and development,” says Dr Bob Soh, Director at Glyscend and Investment Manager at Brandon Capital Partners. “Professors Horowitz and Rayner were sought out to participate in the early development of Glyscend’s program, and I am pleased that they will be leading the first-in-human clinical trials next year in Adelaide.”
“It’s fantastic to be part of a global team tackling such a significant health issue, in such a novel way,” Professor Horowitz says. “In the case of gastric bypass surgery, some T2D patients are essentially ‘cured’ due to the diversion of intestinal contents away from the upper gastrointestinal tract. With Glyscend’s non-absorbable pill we aim to recreate the same profound effect, in a way that is safe and easy to administer. Initial results are extremely promising.”
“By having intestinal contents bypass the upper gut, we can induce a dramatic change in hormonal signalling resulting in improved blood glucose control. This pill has the potential to revolutionise how we treat type 2 diabetes,” adds Professor Rayner.
“The statistics around type 2 diabetes are extremely concerning and we desperately need additional treatment options for this escalating problem,” Dr Soh continues. “Over one million Australians, and 500 million people globally, live with type 2 diabetes, which caused four million deaths last year alone. Current therapies, including pills and injectable treatments, often fail to maintain target glucose levels. This is why we are so excited about the potential of Glyscend’s treatment.”
“The world class expertise and facilities, coupled with an attractive research and development ecosystem are why we intend to conduct our first-in-human trials in Adelaide,” says Ashish Nimgaonkar MD, CEO of Glyscend. “I am delighted with the research collaboration to date and am looking forward to initiating our clinical trials next year” said Dr. Nimgaonkar.
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About Glyscend, Inc.
Glyscend, Inc. is a venture-backed biopharmaceutical company developing novel orally- delivered compounds that work on targets inside the GI tract to treat a variety of metabolic disorders, including T2D. Glyscend’s polymer technology platform evolved from research at Johns Hopkins University, where scientists were evaluating the mechanisms that result in significantly improved glucose and metabolic regulation following certain types of bariatric surgery. They discovered that specifically designed polymers, delivered orally, could mimic this post-surgical effect. Glyscend was originally formed as a project within the Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design (CBID) at Johns Hopkins University, which provided initial financial support, along with the National Science Foundation and Maryland Innovation Initiative. The company was the winner of the Johnson & Johnson’s 2016 World Without Disease QuickFire Challenge and is a JLABS company. The company is headquartered in Baltimore, MD, and performs materials science R&D at the JLABS Incubator (M2D2) in Lowell, MA.
About the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and Brandon Capital Partners
Brandon Capital Partners is a venture capital firm that manages the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), Australia and New Zealand’s largest life science investment fund. The MRCF is a unique collaboration between major Australian superannuation funds, the Australian and New Zealand governments, Australian state governments and more than 50 leading medical research institutes and research hospitals. The MRCF supports the development and commercialisation of early-stage biomedical discoveries originating from member research organisations, providing both capital and expertise to guide the successful development of new therapies. The MRCF has supported more than 45 start-up companies to date, most of which were founded by the MRCF. For more information about Brandon Capital Partners, visit www.brandoncapital.com.au
About Santé Ventures
Santé Ventures is an Austin-based healthcare and life sciences investment firm specializing in early- stage companies developing innovative new medical technologies, biotechnologies, digital health technologies, and healthcare services. Santé focuses on developing lasting, well-aligned partnerships with exceptional entrepreneurs and executives to build valuable companies.