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Rhythm Pharmaceuticals Inc.

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

By licensing out two of its peptides for metabolic and gastrointestinal disorders, Ipsen enabled the launch of Rhythm Pharmaceuticals Inc. Rhythm will build a largely virtual company around Ipsen's molecules and IP related to analogs of the peptide hormones ghrelin and MC4, which regulate food intake, energy homeostasis, and gastrointestinal function. Rhythm's lead GI compound RM-131-is a potential treatment for gastrointestinal motility disorders such as postoperative ileus and diabetic gastroparesis. The new company's lead metabolic compound RM-493, which specifically targets the melanocortin-4 receptor-is a potential treatment for obesity, diabetes, and related metabolic disorders.

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Altering The Insulin Resistance System

With the US deeply mired in an obesity epidemic, a growing aging population throughout the developed world, and rising rates of obesity, the market for therapeutic agents for metabolic disorders and especially type 2 diabetes will continue to grow. Little wonder that many emerging companies are pursuing innovative metabolic, obesity, and type 2 diabetes programs to supplement those of Big Pharma. We profile four of them in this issue: Catabasis Pharmaceuticals, Limerick BioPharma, Marcadia Biotech and Rhythm Pharmaceuticals.

Limerick BioPharma Inc.

Limerick BioPharma is developing drugs that help cells pump unwanted substances away from vulnerable tissues. For diabetes, it is seeking a lead candidate among what it calls Limerick Activators that can increase activation of ATP-binding cassette transporters to promote efflux of lipids from peripheral and pancreatic beta cells, resulting in lowering of serum lipid and glucose.

Marcadia Biotech Inc.

Marcadia Biotech aims to attack diabetes through weight loss. The start-up struck a deal with Merck for a glucagon and GLP-1 dual agonist that suppresses appetite while increasing metabolism in animal obesity models. Marcadia also has a first-in-class GLP-1 and gastric-inhibitory peptide molecule now in Phase 1 testing, again designed to reduce appetite to control diabetes.

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