Metabolic Solutions Development Grabs Venture Dollars For Diabetes Drugs, Gets New CEO

Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor — 

It’s a happy day for Metabolic Solutions Development. The Kalamazoo, MI-based firm said today it has reeled in $23.5 million to fund development of its experimental drug for Type 2 diabetes and its other treatments for metabolic diseases. It also announced the appointment of Stephen Benoit as its new chief executive.

Hopen Life Sciences, a venture group in Grand Rapids, MI, led the drug developer’s latest funding round. Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund, a previous investor, also took part in the financing. Metabolic Solutions Development has now raised $50 million since its founding in 2006.

Last month the company began a Phase IIb trial of its lead drug for Type 2 diabetes, MSDC-0160. A previous clinical study of the drug showed that it could boost insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar without causing some of the common side effects of so-called insulin sensitizer drugs. (The FDA put restrictions on London-based GlaxoSmithKline’s (NYSE:GSK) blockbuster insulin sensitizer, rosliglitazone (Avandia), because the drug increases the risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and stoke.)

Benoit, Metabolic Solutions Development’s new CEO, was previously the founding president of a food safety nonprofit, the Global Food Protection Institute. Before the nonprofit, he worked in the biotech industry as CEO of NanoMed Pharmaceuticals, a developer of drugs for cancer and other diseases.

Metabolic Solutions Development said it also plans to put some of its new cash into funding the development of a second diabetes candidate, MSDC-0602. The firm says that both of its two lead drugs aim to correct the root cause of Type 2 diabetes by hitting an undisclosed target in mitochondria, the power packs of cells. Jerry Colca, the firm’s president and scientific chief, was one of the scientists at Upjohn (now part of Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)) behind the discovery of the diabetes drug pioglatozone (Actos).

“The pharmaceutical and investor communities are increasingly interested in the ability of our candidates to provide greater benefits than current market-leading diabetes medicines without the complications inherent in current therapies,” Colca said in a press release.

There’s a huge U.S. market for diabetes drugs; more than 23 million Americans are believed to have the diseases. That figure is expected to rise as the obesity epidemic in the country leads to more instances of the metabolic disorder.