Thermalin Announces: Collaboration With Sanofi To Develop Next Generation Insulin Therapies
Published: Sep 28, 2017
CLEVELAND, Sept. 28, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Thermalin, Inc., a privately held company with its main laboratories in Cleveland, announced today a worldwide collaboration with Sanofi to discover and develop novel, engineered insulin analogues. The collaboration builds on Thermalin’s pioneering science, which alters the insulin molecule to achieve greater therapeutic performance.
Thermalin also announced the first closing of a tranched, Series A Preferred financing that will raise at least $17.5M to support the advancement of Thermalin’s programs. The round is being led by Sanofi, with participation by JSR?mblVC LifeScience Investment Limited Partnership (a Tokyo-based fund), Green Park & Golf Ventures (a Dallas-based fund), Thermalin’s existing investors, and other undisclosed investors.
“Thermalin is dedicated to making life easier for people living with diabetes,” said Richard Berenson, Chief Executive Officer of Thermalin. “Thermalin’s candidate therapies have the potential to lower the burden of insulin therapy and thereby improve adherence and outcomes.”
John Brooks, Chairman of the Thermalin Board of Directors and former CEO of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, said, “The Sanofi - Thermalin collaboration brings together significant insulin expertise and commitment to innovation in order to deliver disruptive insulins to address the growing diabetes pandemic.”
The collaboration with Sanofi, which represents one of the largest research and development commitments to next-generation engineered insulin analogues, encompasses two Thermalin programs. The collaboration is an outgrowth of Sanofi’s successful Sunrise initiative (www.sanofi-sunrise.com), a strategic-partnership model that seeks to invest in early-stage opportunities that align with Sanofi’s research, development, and commercialization expertise. The funding and commitment of resources from Sanofi will accelerate and broaden Thermalin’s discovery capabilities and will support a shared commitment to bringing much needed therapies to diabetes patients.
Michael Weiss, M.D., Ph.D., scientific founder of Thermalin, Cowan-Blum Professor of Cancer Research and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Biochemistry & Medicine (Endocrine) and
Director of the Institute for Therapeutic Protein Engineering at Case Western Reserve University (“CWRU”), said, “This alliance will allow us to move our advances in insulin analogue design from the bench to the bedside.” Dr. Weiss, who began studying insulin more than 30 years ago as a student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences & Technology (HST), foresees a renaissance in this field. “We are just beginning to learn how targeted modifications of the insulin molecule can fine-tune both its own properties and the downstream signaling functions of the insulin receptor.” The academic team at CWRU, which also includes Prof. Faramarz Ismail-Beigi (Medicine) and Associate Prof. Nelson Phillips (Biochemistry), will work closely with Thermalin and Sanofi.
“We believe that Thermalin’s expertise and capabilities will significantly augment our own deep experience in insulin and enable Sanofi to remain a leader in bringing innovative and beneficial insulin therapies to patients,” said Philip Larsen, Global Head of Diabetes Research and Translational Medicine at Sanofi.
The collaboration could generate for Thermalin up to $788 million in equity investments, milestone payments, and research-and-development services, of which $9 million has already been received as an upfront licensing fee and an initial equity investment. In addition, Sanofi will assume the clinical development costs of these insulin programs and pay royalties on commercial sales of products.
Thermalin will use the new funds to expand its R&D team in Cleveland and will be recruiting from around the Midwest and elsewhere.
Thermalin is developing next-generation insulin solutions for people with Type 1 (T1D) and Type 2 diabetes (T2D). Thermalin’s preclinical programs include ultra-rapid-acting insulin, insulins that never need refrigeration, glucose-responsive insulin, and a once-a-week insulin patch.
Thermalin’s new molecular designs are the creation of Dr. Michael Weiss at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (http://case.edu/medicine) and exclusively licensed to Thermalin. Thermalin and Dr. Weiss’s work has been supported by numerous academic and SBIR grants from the National Institutes of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Disorders (NIDDK) of the US NIH, and is particularly indebted to Dr. Guillermo Rubin-Arrias, whose inspirational leadership at NIDDK has been instrumental in advancing academic and industry progress on new therapies for Diabetes (www.niddk.nih.gov). Thermalin and Dr. Weiss have also benefited from generous support from the JDRF (www.jdrf.org). Dr. Weiss gratefully acknowledges additional generous support by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust (www.helmsleytrust.org).