Economic Development and Health Care

Metabolic Solutions breaks through at life sciences incubator

May 21, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Metabolic Solutions Development leans on life sciences incubator for research
Danielle Holewa conducts lab research for Kalamazoo-based Metabolic Solutions Development Co. Courtesy MSDC

Breakthrough research on a type 2 diabetes drug target by Metabolic Solutions Development Co. in Kalamazoo underscores the key role of a life sciences incubator, according to local industry leaders.

At laboratories located in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, MSDC has been investigating potential treatments for diabetes involving new kinds of insulin sensitizers that do not cause the side effects of previous forms.

MSDC announced its findings and published its data this month in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, an international, peer reviewed, open access online publication.

MSDC had contracted with Launch MI Lab, also based at SMIC, to help define the proteins involved and their mechanism of action.

Greg Cavey, lab manager at Launch MI Lab, said if not for his facility, MSDC would have had to go out of the region to do the research, costing additional time and money.

“Instead, MSDC was able to run experiments during the day based on data we generated for them the night before,” said Cavey.

“Being able to access mass spec expertise and services, literally across the hall from our labs, was key to advancing this important scientific work,” said Stephen Benoit, CEO of MSDC.

The support demonstrates the value of a life science incubator that provides essential services, expertise and facilities, said SMIC president/CEO Robert DeWit.

“This is how it was meant to be — having the right scientific knowledge and capabilities here at just the right time,” DeWit said. “We’re thrilled for MSDC. We applaud their talented scientists, and we’re pleased to have played a supportive role in their success.”

Launch MI Lab supports companies by providing specialized lab instrumentation, including mass spectrometry, proteomics, metabolomics and bioanalytical quantitative analysis.

Launch MI Lab, which has more than 2,300 square feet of secure wet lab space, opened in 2012 with funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and other sources.

Opened in 2003, the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center is a 69,000-square-foot incubator and accelerator providing a comprehensive range of facilities and support for the formation, survival and growth of innovative life science businesses.

Metabolic Solutions was founded in 2006 by two researchers who had spent their careers working on treatment of type 2 diabetes at Upjohn in Kalamazoo, and its successors. 

In 2008, MSDC received $2.4 million from the state of Michigan’s 21st Century Jobs Fund in support of its research. In 2010, a Grand Rapids based venture capital firm, Hopen Life Sciences, also invested in MSDC research.

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