Startups, Venture

Medicxi’s new fund jumps off the beaten biotech path to lead a $30M round for diabetes program

Medicxi jumped far off the beaten biotech track and joined with some irregulars on the investment side for the first bet with its new venture fund, backing a late-stage development program targeted at diabetes — one of the toughest gambles in R&D.

The European VC led a $30 million round for Diasome Pharmaceuticals, a Cleveland-based biotech that’s developing a new tech aimed at amping up the effectiveness of insulin. Joining with Medicxi: JDRF T1D Fund in Boston, Black Beret Life Sciences in Houston and an investor group led by McDonald Partners. The move comes just a few weeks after Medicxi unveiled their new $300 million fund, looking for more advanced clinical programs to back on both sides of the Atlantic.

Michèle Ollier

Diasome has a Phase III-bound program in the clinic that adds “Hepatocyte Directed Vesicles” to commercially available insulin. Essentially, it’s a piggyback tech that marries liver-targeting molecules with insulin, delivering them unchanged where it can do the most good. It’s currently in a Phase IIb trial.

For some time now, diabetes has been a no-go zone for biotechs, which typically can’t afford a late-stage program on their own in an industry dominated by a handful of giants like Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi.

By going after a delivery technology that can be added to insulin in the vial, though, Diasome is keeping it simple and evidently within reach. As a follow-up, they also have an oral insulin program in development with mid-stage data to back it up for glucose control in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. There’s also a preclinical Type 2 oral drug in the pipeline as well.

What attracted Medicxi? Founding partner Michèle Ollier put it this way:

It has never been understood why insulin as a hormone replacement therapy cannot mimic the endogenous insulin activity. With HDV liver-targeted insulin, Diasome is providing a simple and elegant answer to this problem, with their preliminary human data showing that HDV makes commercial insulin more physiological, and therefore, significantly more effective. We look forward to assessing the results of the ongoing Phase II studies.

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