Swiss biotech developing novel nutraceuticals for prediabetes, diabetes and obesity
Brugg, Switzerland, 9 February 2017 – Glycemicon AG, a Swiss biotechnology company developing novel nutraceuticals for managing prediabetes, diabetes and obesity, today announced the first closing of its Series A round, raising CHF 3.25 million from private individuals. It also advised the recent appointment of three new members to the Board of Directors: Robert Schier, Danilo Casadei Massari and Erhard Lee.
The company will use the funds to conduct its first clinical trial in humans with prediabetes, and a second veterinary clinical trial in overweight cats. Its first nutraceutical product is based on the active compound THBA, a natural substance that modifies body fat tissue, making it more efficient in decreasing elevated blood sugar levels, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes. THBA is naturally occurring in humans and pets and is also found in small quantities in certain natural food products.
Robert Schier, PhD, EMBA, Chairman, commented: “We are delighted to welcome our new shareholders with these funds, which allow us to accelerate the clinical development of our unique product for both humans and pets. The field of nutraceuticals is fast-developing, and we are confident that our approach will deliver considerable value to consumers and healthcare systems which are struggling with the burden of diabetes.”
He continued: “The appointments of Mr Casadei Massari and Mr Lee will bring great benefits to this young company in terms of commercial development and investor networks.”
Nadja Mrosek, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Prediabetes is a growing condition affecting about 20% of the population in Europe, USA and Japan. There is a clear medical need for a new approach before complications develop into full-blown diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other metabolic diseases. Our unique product is based on THBA, a natural substance that restores the natural ability of body fat in humans and pets to process nutrients, and so better control blood glucose levels. Given that our pre-clinical studies demonstrate significant efficacy and a clean safety profile, we are very excited by this injection of funds to prove our new approach in the clinic.”
About the new members of the Board
Robert Schier received academic degrees in pharmacy, applied microbiology and cell biology, as well as in business administration. He is co-author of several patents and scientific publications, and received the Keystone Award for Excellence in Research. Robert held several R&D and business positions in biotech companies in the Munich area before becoming a partner in the venture capital firms Inventages (2002-2011) and then Seventure Partners (2011-2016). In both these firms he invested in life science companies in Europe and the US as a lead investor, and served as a director on the boards of several portfolio companies. Robert now also acts as a start-up coach for the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation. In 2016, he joined Glycemicon as a board member and currently serves as Chairman.
Danilo Casadei Massari holds a Bachelor of Science and trained in Epidemiology. He has extensive experience as a senior pharmaceutical executive and as an entrepreneur. Among others, he has cofounded and is operationally active in Prismic Pharmaceuticals and Primary Medicines. Prior to this, in 2011, he successfully founded, built and sold a medical foods company, CM&D Pharma, to Nestle Health Science. Earlier in his career he was CEO of Fidia Pharmaceuticals, USA, and Director of International Corporate Development with Fidia Farmaceutici SpA and Madaus. In parallel to his current operational activities, Danilo is a member of the Investment Committee at Seventure Partners in Paris. He serves as a director with TargEDys, Cambrooke Therapeutics, Theraloop, Documedica and Difass International.
Erhard Lee holds a master’s degree in business economics and administration. He is a certified analyst and wealth manager. Erhard started his career at BZ Bank in 1992 as an analyst and head of trading. In 1995, he joined Bank Leu AG, where he was a portfolio manager for a Swiss equity fund before joining Actieninvest in 1996 as an analyst, wealth manager and CEO. Erhard joined Schaller Management and Consulting in 2001, where he spent two years as CEO, partner and wealth manager. At the same time, he founded his own investment firm, AMG Analysen und Anlagen, which today manages assets of over CHF 1 billion with offices in Zurich and Zug, Switzerland.
About prediabetes and diabetes
Prediabetes is the precursor stage before diabetes mellitus in which not all of the symptoms required to diagnose diabetes are present, but blood sugar is abnormally high. This stage is often referred to as the "grey area”.
Normally, peoples’ bodies make the hormone, insulin, to control blood sugar. But when they have prediabetes, this system does not work as well as it should, and they might not be able to make enough insulin after eating, or their bodies might not respond properly to the insulin. Prediabetes makes people more susceptible to getting heart disease or having a stroke, so it is crucial to begin managing the condition before full-blown diabetes is diagnosed.
According to 2016 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 86 million Americans aged 20 and older are living with prediabetes, and more than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes. Prediabetics in particular have a large unmet need for efficacious and safe products.
According to the World Health Organization, the number of adults with diabetes has quadrupled in the past 25 years, from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Global prevalence has increased from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014. Moreover, 90-95% of these individuals have type 2 diabetes, which is also increasing dramatically amongst children, leading to secondary complications in early adulthood.
Glycemicon AG is a Swiss biotechnology company developing novel nutraceuticals for managing prediabetes, diabetes and obesity, using new approaches that were initially identified at the University of Science & Technology ETH Zurich. The lead product’s active substance is a natural occurring tetra hydroxylated bile acid (THBA) in both humans and pets, which drives the formation of new fat cells to combat elevated blood glucose levels. The resulting greater number of smaller fat cells does not result in weight gain but significantly improves the effectiveness of nutrient storage, increases insulin sensitivity and enables better control of blood sugar levels.
The company has completed successful pre-clinical studies with THBA to demonstrate efficacy and a clean safety profile, and is running clinical trials for both humans and pets. The first nutraceutical product could be used either on its own or in co-administration with current anti-diabetic therapies. Founded in 2013 and financed mainly by private individuals, the company has raised CHF 7 million to date.
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