Diabetes treatment developer Lumena Pharmaceuticals has secured the $2 million it needs to start clinical trials and a little bit extra for good measure.
The company’s first round of investment was oversubscribed and led to a haul of $2.5 million, according to amended filings made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Lumena’s investors are venture capital firms Pappas Ventures and RiverVest Venture Partners. The new capital means the company can proceed to human tests for its novel type 2 diabetes treatment, which aims to develop a pill to help patients regulate their blood sugar.
The Research Triangle Park company is developing a new diabetes treatment based on the role bile acids play as signaling agents in the gastrointestinal tract. When Lumena launched its fundraising efforts last year, CEO Michael Grey explained that most gastric bypass surgery patients are type 2 diabetics.
In 80 percent of those patients, blood glucose levels normalized within days – a change that’s not attributed to weight loss. What happens is the surgery has the effect of also blocking the normal circulation of bile acids to the liver.
Bile’s role extends beyond processing fats. It also acts as a signaling agent. In this case, the bile that does not get circulated to the liver remains in the gastrointestinal tract. Its presence there triggers receptors that release Glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar.
The company believes that its experimental drug can replicate what it calls a “bile acid brake” effect without the patient needing to undergo a gastric bypass surgery to get it.
Unlike other drugs that circulate through the bloodstream, the targeted action could offer fewer side and effects compared to other diabetes treatments.
Lumena’s technology comes from company cofounder Slava Gedulin, a former scientist at Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AMLN), a San Diego, California biotechnology company that develops diabetes and obesity treatments. Gedulin’s discovery came after he left Amylin and the company has no claims on Lumena’s technology. Lumena was founded last year.
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