In the face of new high-tech glucose meters, diabetes drugs and weight reduction procedures, a southern startup co-founded by the chairman of Whole Foods Market is setting itself apart by taking a notably more natural, more proactive approach to type 2 diabetes by utilizing bacteria in the gut to help prevent its onset in prediabetics.
NuMe Health LLC just announced that it will begin a phase 1 proof-of-concept study for its cobiotic — a proprietary blend of prebiotics and other natural, plant-derived ingredients — that’s designed to alter the composition of the bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tract in order to help people with prediabetes maintain healthy blood glucose levels and body weight.
Unlike probiotics, which add relatively small amounts of bacteria to the gut, prebiotics provide nutrition that supports the growth of beneficial bacterial strains. According the company, NM504 facilitates the growth of bacteria that inhibit appetite signals and prevent the conversion of undigested nutrients into extra calories. It also supports bacteria that stimulate satiety signals and shifts the overall bacterial environment of the microbiome in the gut to decrease absorption of sugar and cholesterol.
The company just closed a $1.5 million series A led by existing investor BVM Capital with the addition of company insiders and several new private investors. It will use the funds to move forward with the trial and commercialization of its first product, a dietary supplement. According to a company rep, follow-on products will likely move into the medical foods space.
An estimated 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Currently, dietary changes and increased physical activity are encouraged to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes, and many prediabetics also take metformin. But a few other companies are also taking NuMe Health’s approach by developing supplements and medical foods to prevent metabolic disorders, including Metagenics and ATM Metabolics.
NuMe Health was co-founded in 2009 by John Elstrott, the chairman of Whole Foods Market, and biotech entrepreneur Dale Pfost. It’s headquartered in New Orleans.