Protomer has a drug technology platform made up of proteins capable of sensing the concentrations of specific molecules and adjusting to create varying doses. This pipeline includes an insulin product that adapts to different glucose levels in diabetic patients. The company was founded in 2014 by researchers at Caltech led by Alborz Mahdavi. In November 2020, Lilly conducted an investment round which was supported by the JDRF T1D Fund. JDRF T1D’s first funding also included the Paris-based Sanofi. The November 2020 cycle saw Lilly own 14% of the company. Under the new agreement, he acquires the rest of the shares.
In November 2020, Katie Ellias, Executive Director of JDRF T1D Fund, said, “Protomer’s novel mechanism for glucose-sensitive insulin shows tremendous promise and has the potential to be a game-changer for people with type 1 diabetes. . “
No specific financial details were disclosed other than the fact that the $ 1 billion figure was tied to various stages of development and business.
“Lilly has a long history of working to improve the lives of people with diabetes and we are committed to delivering real solutions, including innovation in insulin therapy,” said Ruth Gimeno, vice president of research at diabetes and clinical investigation at Lilly. “Glucose-sensing insulin is the next frontier and has the potential to revolutionize the treatment and quality of life for people with diabetes by dramatically improving both the therapeutic efficacy and the safety of insulin therapy. Protomer’s glucose-sensing insulin program, based on its proprietary Protein Sensor Molecular Engineering (MEPS) platform, shows great promise and Lilly is delighted to enhance our diabetes pipeline with the innovative technology of the society.
Protomer calls its diabetes product “a smart glucagon”. That is, new generation insulins that react to glucose. Insulin would automatically detect when blood sugar levels are rising in the body and activate when needed and stop when blood sugar levels reach normal levels.
Alborz Mahdavi, CEO and Founder of Protomer, said: “We are delighted to join Lilly, a leader in diabetes therapies, and to advance our science with their support to better meet the needs of patients. This transaction validates the accomplishments of our team, and we look forward to continuing our important work with Lilly. “
Ellias, in today’s announcement, noted that this acquisition was “a significant milestone for the T1D community and a key step in bringing Protomer’s breakthrough technology promise closer to the clinic. Our early support and investment in Protomer is emblematic of our Fund’s mission to help companies with innovative science accelerate next-generation therapies that change the lives of people living with T1D.
Mahdavi added, “We have been supported by JDRF since our inception and working closely with one of the leading type 1 diabetes research organizations has been invaluable to us. The Protomer team is excited to embark on the next chapter of our work at Lilly as we focus our efforts on advancing glucose-sensitive insulins and accelerating the development of these next-generation protein therapies. “
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Although it can develop in adults, it is usually diagnosed during childhood or adolescence. There is no cure. Treatment involves managing blood sugar levels with insulin, diet, and lifestyle. The cause is unknown, although the body’s immune system typically attacks the islets of Langerhans, the cells that produce insulin, in the pancreas. There appear to be genetic factors, although there are some indications of exposure to viruses and other environmental factors may play a role.