Pfizer gets Rhythm with $8M bet on diabetes, obesity drug work

Pfizer Venture Investments has stepped in to back the Boston-based startup Rhythm Pharma, betting $8 million as the biotech revs up its clinical engine for two new metabolic drugs aimed at the diabetes and obesity epidemics. The new money brings Rhythm's B round to $33 million and the total raised to a whopping $73 million inside of two years.

Pfizer's in good company. MPM Capital and New Enterprise Associates launched Rhythm with an A round in early 2010, drawn in by its co-founders, Bart Henderson and Liz Stoner. And then the prolific investors at Third Rock Ventures joined the venture circle. A year ago Merck R&D vet Keith Gottesdiener was recruited to take them helm. 

The group is working on RM-131, a lead mid-stage drug for the treatment of diabetic gastroparesis--a problem with gastric emptying characterized by some painful symptoms--and RM-493 for obesity and diabetes, which is wrapping Phase I.

The obesity and diabetes epidemics represent one of the largest medical challenges confronting society today," said Dr. Barbara Dalton, the vice president venture capital for Pfizer Venture Investments. "Rhythm's metabolic programs are compelling because of the initial proof-of-concept data from ongoing clinical programs, along with the fact that peptide therapeutics have delivered high success rates in clinical development. We are pleased to help Rhythm capitalize on its opportunities."

"The Pfizer team has deep commercial and development experience that we intend to leverage as we expand the clinical trial program for these two important new therapeutics," says Henderson, the former chief business officer and deal-maker at Radius.

- here's the press release

Special Report: Top diabetes drug pipelines of 2012

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