Glyscend Therapeutics Completes $20.5-Million Financing Round to Advance Novel Oral Polymer Therapy
Glyscend Therapeutics recently announced the closing of a $20.5-million Series A financing round. Healthcare investors Brandon Capital Partners, through its Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), and Santé Ventures led the round of funding, which will be used to support the development of the company’s novel oral polymer therapy for patients with T2D and other metabolic diseases. Breakout Labs (a fund in the Thiel Foundation) provided seed funding in 2019.
“The technology we are developing was inspired by the remarkable efficacy of gastric bypass surgery in correcting the metabolic disorder associated with T2D. Our goal is to develop an oral medication that works locally in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to provide the benefits of gastric bypass surgery while greatly reducing the potential risks and complications,” said Ashish Nimgaonkar, MD, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Glyscend.
The upper intestinal tract is now appreciated to play a critical role in metabolic regulation. Gastric bypass surgeries that divert intestinal contents away from the upper GI tract (via duodenal exclusion mechanism) or endoscopic interventions that create a barrier can induce dramatic changes in hormonal signaling between the gut, liver, and brain. The result is often dramatic improvement in blood glucose levels and the ability of cells to respond to insulin, in addition to weight loss and improvement in many other markers of abnormal metabolism seen with T2D over time. Bariatric surgeries, such as gastric bypass, are so effective that some T2D patients can maintain normal blood sugars without further medication, but the procedures have been reserved for the most obese patients because of the cost and potential complications. Roughly a quarter-million bariatric surgery procedures are performed yearly in the US.
“To mimic the benefits of these invasive procedures using a pill, Glyscend’s R&D team drew from the experience of Thomas Jozefiak, PhD, a medicinal polymer chemist who pioneered non-absorbable compounds when he was at GelTex Pharmaceuticals (later Genzyme) that have become blockbuster drugs for Sanofi in the treatment of chronic kidney disease,” Dr. Nimgaonkar added.
“Having seen the potential of non-absorbed drugs, I was immediately drawn to the challenge of creating a proprietary family of non-absorbed polymers that uniquely interacts with the intestinal mucosa to create a temporary barrier effect as food passes through. Extensive preclinical studies support safety and efficacy of our compounds in relevant animal models of T2D,” said Dr. Jozefiak, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Glyscend.
“I’ve had the privilege of watching the Glyscend team for several years as they developed and validated their compounds,” said Bob Soh, MD, Investment Manager at Brandon Capital Partners. “Clinical investigators in our Australian network endorsed the approach early on and are keen to begin first-in-human trials next year.”
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), there are approximately 500 million people living with T2D worldwide, including 34 million in the US. Current therapies, including pills and injectable treatments, often fail to improve blood glucose levels even as patients are stepped up from simple to more complex medication regimens. Poor glucose control can lead to severe and life-threatening complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.
“Glyscend’s non-absorbed compounds have the potential to create an entirely novel category of safe and effective metabolic pharmaceuticals,” said Dennis McWilliams, Venture Partner of Santé Ventures. “Moreover, the team’s experience in GI science, metabolic physiology and unique polymer chemistry gives us significant confidence in the company’s T2D development program.”
Glyscend is also pleased to announce that industry entrepreneur Karen Talmadge, PhD, has joined its Board of Directors as an independent director. Dr. Talmadge has been an active member of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for 27 years, most recently serving as Chair of the ADA National Board in 2013 and 2018. She was previously the co-founder of Kyphon, where she developed minimally invasive solutions for the spine (commonly known as kyphoplasty) and held various leadership roles, including CEO and CSO, until Kyphon’s acquisition by Medtronic in 2007 for $4.2 billion. Prior to Kyphon, she held multiple science and business positions at the biotech company Scios, including VP of R&D for its diabetes and obesity program.
“Type 2 diabetes is a terrible disease whose personal and societal impact is both underappreciated and deeply misunderstood. I am honored to join Glyscend’s board to help fulfill the company’s mission of providing life-changing benefits to patients with diabetes by reducing or eliminating the burden of disease,” said Dr. Talmadge.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Talmadge to our Board, and to close this financing round with world-class investors who believe in the bold vision of our company. The Series A funding will support ongoing product development, manufacturing scale-up, and proof-of-concept clinical trials,” added Dr. Nimgaonkar.
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 in animal model, could mimic this post-surgical effect. Glyscend’s technology was invented through research that originated at the Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design (CBID) at Johns Hopkins University and was licensed from the University. The project received grants and recognition from the Maryland Innovation Initiative, the National Science Foundation, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and Janssen Research & Development 2016 World Without Disease QuickFire Challenge. The company is headquartered in Baltimore, MD, and performs materials science R&D at JLABS @ M2D2 in Lowell, MA. For more information, visit www.glyscend.com.
Glyscend’s patient-friendly, orally administered polymer therapy is intended to work locally in the GI tract by creating a temporary barrier in specific portions of the intestine. This barrier would alter food uptake in those portions of intestine to induce dramatic changes in hormonal signaling via the gut-liver-brain axis. Glyscend aims to replicate the beneficial effects of Bariatric surgery via the “duodenal exclusion” mechanism, without the need for surgery. Bariatric surgery has been shown to have immediate and profound effects on improving blood glucose while reducing body weight and reducing long-term micro- and macro-vascular complications related to T2D. Glyscend’s technology could enable, not just the treatment but potentially a reversal of T2D. Glyscend’s novel synthetic polymers are inert, non-absorbed, and naturally eliminated through the GI tract within 24 hours. Polymer-based therapies are a proven unique class of therapeutics with more than three decades of clinical experience in a wide range of applications. Ongoing research and development continue to provide further understanding of the impact that polymer science can play in shaping future therapies in the metabolic disease space.
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. For more information, visit www.santeventures.com.
Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, 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 pension 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 commercialization of early-stage biomedical discoveries originating from member research organizations, providing both capital and expertise to guide the successful development of new therapies. For more information, visit www.brandoncapital.com.au.
Total Page Views: 257