Inversago Pharma has raised $7 million to support the development of a new generation of cannabinoid-1 (CB1) receptor blockers for the treatment of Prader-Willi syndrome, type 1 diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.
With the money, Inversago plans to advance its new compounds into clinical trials.
CB1 inhibitors have been shown to have great potential in treating a range of metabolic diseases. However, these first-generation formulations were associated with adverse psychiatric events, which led to the termination of all clinical programs.
Inversago’s new products are designed to specifically target the peripheral tissues and organs without affecting the central nervous system, avoiding the behavioral effects associated with the earlier generations of this class of drugs.
This approach was based on the work of George Kunos, an MD and PhD, a principal investigator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Kunos and his colleagues demonstrated in preclinical studies the peripheral specificity of these new compounds, as well as their potential as a treatment for diseases such as obesity, liver fibrosis, diabetes, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a type of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
“This is an exciting time for Inversago as we launch operations and pioneer the comeback of CB1 inverse agonists,” François Ravenelle, the company’s founder and CEO, said in a press release. “CB1 blockade has already demonstrated much promise, and we are confident we have the right technology to exploit their full potential.”
Previous clinical data showed that Prader-Willi patients have elevated blood levels of 2-arachidonoylglycerol, or 2-AG, a naturally occurring CB1 activator. This finding suggests that deregulation of the cannabinoid system may contribute to symptoms including hyperphagia (excessive eating), obesity, chronic to severe constipation, and low energy expenditure.
Supported by these discoveries, peripherally restricted CB1 blockers may represent an attractive strategy to manage many of the manifestations of Prader-Willi.
“The clear demonstration of peripheral action with very low brain occupancy shapes the path toward the reinstated first-in-class therapeutics for several unmet medical needs,” said Elizabeth Douville, managing partner at AmorChem.
The money was raised in a Series A financing round together with Genesys Capital and Amorchem, with participation from the JDRF T1D Fund, Accel-Rx, Anges Québec Capital, Anges Québec, Tarnagulla Ventures, and angel investors.
“Clinically validated, biological mechanisms are both rare and valuable in drug development. We look forward to supporting Inversago as it evaluates its novel chemistry across a breadth of potential metabolic indications,” said Jamie Stiff, partner at Genesys Capital.