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Surface Logix, Developer of Obesity and Diabetes Drugs, Nabs $20M Financing

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has a modified surface designed to let it block MTP, but that keeps it from being absorbed into the lymphatic system and bloodstream. That means, in theory, that the drug binds with MTP, and sits there on the inner intestinal lining, absorbing cholesterol and fat. Eventually, the cells on the intestinal lining should get so bloated that they die off after the usual four or five days and end up leaving the body through the feces, Dionne says.

Roche has already introduced a drug that blocks fat absorption called orlistat, which is marketed via prescription as Xenical and over-the-counter as Alli (it’s been pitched lately on TV by Wynona Judd). The big side effects with this product are pretty predictable—urgent bowel movements, more frequent bowel movements, oily stools. So why wouldn’t Surface Logix’s drug cause those same kind of effects, which keep orlistat from becoming a blockbuster drug?

The best answer Dionne had was that Surface Logix hasn’t seen that kind of diarrhea or oily stool effect from its drug, after experience with more than 180 patients. The more scientific answer he offered is that Roche’s drug blocks long fatty acids—larger molecules that embed in the intestines—while the Surface Logix drug blocks smaller triglycerides that apparently don’t cause as much bowel movement.

A big test will be in the Phase IIb clinical trial of 135 patients that Surface Logix started in January, which will measure how much patients’ cholesterol goes down, and look at how much weight patients lose, after taking the drug for about three months. A second trial of the same drug will examine whether blocking these triglycerides can have a positive effect on diabetes, Dionne says. Once that data arrives by the end of 2009, then the story could get more interesting for potential partners. “Once we generate the data, we’ll evaluate the options,” Dionne says.

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