Investors see something good brewing in a biotech’s hops-derived type 2 diabetes drug

Don’t get the idea that beer is good for you, but a biotech startup is pinning it hopes on the ability of a derivative of hops, the plant that gives beer its bitter taste, to help people with diabetes lose weight and control their glucose levels. Seattle-based KinDex Pharmaceuticals recently unveiled itself with the announcement […]

Don’t get the idea that beer is good for you, but a biotech startup is pinning it hopes on the ability of a derivative of hops, the plant that gives beer its bitter taste, to help people with diabetes lose weight and control their glucose levels.

Seattle-based KinDex Pharmaceuticals recently unveiled itself with the announcement of a $5 million Series A led by Polaris Partners. Now it’s gearing up for a phase 2 clinical trial of its lead drug candidate in type 2 diabetes patients.

It was a chance discovery by researchers at medical foods company Metagenics, where KinDex CEO Jeffrey Bland was previously chief scientific officer, that led to the formation of the new company, Bland told Xconomy. Researchers were screening a variety of natural products to see which ones had anti-inflammatory characteristics and found hops to be the most promising.

KinDex was spun off in 2009 and has spent the past few years studying its compound in in vivo and in vitro models of diabetes and inflammation.

The drug candidaste targets a network of enzymes that trigger inflammatory responses in the body that can lead to insulin resistance. Preclinical studies have suggested that it has the potential to improve glucose control and normalize body weight, KinDex said in its announcement.

The company has completed phase 1 safety studies and Bland told Xconomy that it expects to begin a phase 2a proof-of-concept study in as many as 200 type 2 diabetes patients this year.

[Image credit: Flickr user Dave Dames]