Seattle startup sets out with $5M, beer molecules and a plan to treat diabetes

KinDex Pharmaceuticals CEO Jeffrey Bland

KinDex Pharmaceuticals began in 2009 with a promising hypothesis: that the hops found in beer could be broken down and spun out into therapeutic molecules, regulating body weight and glucose metabolism. Now, after years of confirmatory lab work, the Seattle biotech is ready for a make-or-break Phase II trial, banking a $5 million round led by venture stalwart Polaris and planning to test whether its candidate can treat Type 2 diabetes.

The company's lead prospect, KDT 501, is a hops-derived compound KinDex said can help regulate the intracell communications that drive inflammation. In early-phase studies, the drug has shown promise in preventing the immune response that leads to insulin resistance, the company said, giving it a chance to normalize glucose levels in diabetics. Furthermore, KinDex's molecule has moved the needle in lowering cholesterol and triglycerides and curbing weight gain, according to the company, and the drug proved safe and well-tolerated in a Phase I endeavor.

Now, with Polaris providing cash and guidance, KinDex is plotting a Phase II trial involving about 200 Type 2 diabetes patients, CEO Jeffrey Bland told Xconomy, looking to study the drug both as a monotherapy and in combination with the long-generic metformin. KinDex figures KDT 501 could serve as an ideal partner for a slew of Type 2 diabetes treatments, possibly reducing side effects and allowing for lower doses.

If the drug comes through on all of its early promise, KinDex will likely seek out a deep-pocketed partner to pave the way to Phase III, Bland told Xconomy, but the focus, for now, is on designing and executing a trial that can help KDT 501 stand out in the crowded diabetes field.

Beyond its lead program, KinDex has a preclinical effort underway to study KDT 501, and the biotech is in the discovery stage with KDT 600 for obesity alongside other undisclosed candidates.

- read the release (PDF)
- check out Xconomy's story

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