Clinical trials by Metabolic get funding

October 22, 2010
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Grand Rapids-based venture capital firm Hopen Life Sciences led a $23.5 million round of funding that is backing clinical trials for two new diabetes drugs at Metabolic Solutions Development Co. in Kalamazoo.

Early clinical trials have produced promising results, said MSDC’s new CEO, Stephen Benoit.

“In this particular investment climate, it’s a tremendous show of support and commitment to the company,” said Benoit. “That in and of itself is very exciting. It gives us a good amount of operating runway. It gets us well into 2012 and allows us to complete a couple of really important studies.”

Also investing in this round was the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund in Kalamazoo, which has invested in MSDC previously, he said.

MSDC is embarking on three clinical trials aimed at proving the effectiveness of two potential treatments for Type 2 diabetes. One is a Phase 2b study of MSDC-0160, which is the compound upon which MSDC founders Jerry Colca and Rolf Kletzien, previously scientists at Pfizer Inc., launched the company.

It is a double-blind clinical trial including more than 420 patients at 30 sites in the United States and India. Patients are being enrolled now and a final report is expected by the end of next year, Benoit said.

“If the results of the Phase 2a study are successfully extended in this Phase 2b trial, we will generate additional momentum for our development program as we drive toward achieving our long-term goal of a therapeutic option that could be used early in the course of the disease to inhibit the otherwise inexorable progression of diabetes and its complications,” Colca said in a written statement.

A Phase 2a trial with 80 diabetics showed that the medication lowers blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity without the side effects of current choices. It also showed a positive impact on blood pressure and lipids.

The latest investment fund will also support Phase 1b and Phase 2a trials on a second compound that has the same molecular target as the first.

“This was an important round for the kind of local venture community that is investing here,” said Mark Olesnavage, managing director of Hopen Life Sciences. “We are very bullish on what we think we can accomplish in the next 18 months.”

Benoit, who started his new job last week, came from the Global Food Protection Institute in Battle Creek, where he was founding president and COO. Previously he worked as president and CEO of an oncology drug development company.

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