Poxel raises funds to develop Imeglimin to treat type 2 diabetes

Bloomberg reports that biopharmaceutical company Poxel SA has raised $17.1 million in venture backing to support clinical testing for an experimental type of oral anti-diabetic drugs called glimins. Poxel, a spinoff from Merck Serono, is primarily focused on creating new treatment options for those with Type 2 diabetes.

Poxel plans to begin a mid-stage clinical trial in 2013 for Imeglimin, which acts on the mitochondrial level to inhibit liver glucose production, increase muscle glucose uptake and restore normal pancreatic insulin secretion. According to a company press release, previous trials suggest the drug is safe and well-tolerated and shows some benefit when taken with Merck's sitagliptin. This next trial phase is set to examine Imeglimin's efficacy as a standalone treatment for an estimated 400 patients, and new data is expected in 2014.

In a phone interview, Poxel CEO Thomas Kuhn told Bloomberg that the funding is mainly intended for use in making the new product ready for Phase III testing.

"This substantial funding will build further value in both Imeglimin and Poxel," Kuhn said. "The continued support from investors is a real testimony to the potential of Imeglimin and our approach to treating diabetes. In addition to our proof of concept in mono- and in combination therapy, the financing will support us in reinforcing Imeglimin's efficacy potential to safely treat Type 2 diabetes."

According to the Poxel press release, the number of people worldwide with type 2 diabetes is rising rapidly, possibly as a result of urbanization, dietary changes, reduced physical activity and other lifestyle shifts. In 2011, the International Diabetes Federation estimated that 366 million people worldwide had diabetes, and that total is expected to grow to 552 million by 2030.

Demand for new treatments is likely to increase along with new diagnoses: The worldwide pharmaceutical market for the disease is expected to nearly double from $26 billion in 2011 to $48.8 billion by 2021. Overall, 60 percent of the world's pharmaceutical market for Type 2 diabetes is dominated by oral anti-diabetics. If further Imeglimen trials prove successful, Poxel could potentially help meet that demand.

"There is enormous demand for new therapies to fight Type 2 diabetes," Dr. Thierry Hercend, chairman of the Poxel board, stated in the press release. "The excellent results we have seen in the recent clinical trials lead us to the conclusion that Imeglimin has great potential to be [become] a new anti-diabetic standard treatment."

Founded in 2009, Poxel raised 16 million euros in 2010 from the same investors who are behind the latest round of financing. In addition to its research on Imeglimen, Poxel has other anti-diabetic products in early development as well, including a direct activator of AMPK for treatment of type 2 diabetes.

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