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Sunday, 29 September 2013 22:00

State of the industry: Recent milestones reported in the West Michigan life sciences community

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Metabolic Solutions Development Co. Chief Scientific Officer, President and co-founder Jerry Colca, right, presented findings from a Phase 2a clinical trial that shows promise in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. CEO Stephen Benoit, left, is also pictured. Metabolic Solutions Development Co. Chief Scientific Officer, President and co-founder Jerry Colca, right, presented findings from a Phase 2a clinical trial that shows promise in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. CEO Stephen Benoit, left, is also pictured. MIBIZ FILE PHOTO: BRIAN BANKSTON

A number of organizations in West Michigan’s life sciences cluster announced strides forward recently, from securing capital to research breakthroughs and advances in their product developments.
Here’s a rundown of the recent activity:

  • Tetra Discovery Partners in Grand Rapids this month closed on $1.01 million in seed investments led by Grand Angels. Members of the Grand Rapids-based angel investment group put a little more than $600,000 into Tetra Discovery, which is developing treatments for neurological conditions.

    The two-year-old company also secured investments of $250,000 each from the Biosciences Research & Commercialization Center in Kalamazoo and the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund. The infusion of capital will take Tetra to human clinical trials for two separate drugs that it’s developing, one to treat memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease and the other for depression, founder and CEO Mike Gurney said.

    The investments are on top of the $3.07 million federal Small Business Innovation and Research grant Tetra received in August from the National Institute for Mental Health for work on its depression drug.

    The company, now in pre-clinical testing, is probably about 12 to 14 months away from starting human clinical trials “if we don’t hit any speed bumps,” Gurney said. The SBIR grant and capital investments are “critical at this stage of the company,” he said.


  • Earlier this month, Kalamazoo-based Metabolic Solutions Development Co. presented findings from a Phase 2a clinical trial that shows the compound in a drug it’s developing to treat Type 2 diabetes holds promise to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well.

    In the trial, the compound — known as an insulin sensitizer and called MSDC-0160 — helped to maintain glucose metabolism in areas of the brain associated with cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s.

    Metabolic Solutions founder and Chief Scientific Officer Jerry Colca presented the findings early this month at International Conference on Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery in Jersey City, N.J. The study was supported by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.

    In the Phase 2a clinical trial involving 29 patients with dementia from Alzheimer’s, the compound maintained or increased the metabolism of glucose in the area of the brain associated with cognitive decline.

    In a separate study using clinical models and mice, the compound protected nerve cells in the brain that control movement, balance and walking. The results show that MSDC-0160 has the potential to alter the course of Parkinson’s disease.

    Metabolic Solutions conducted the Parkinson’s study with Dr. Patrik Brudin, who leads the Laboratory of Translational Parkinson’s Disease Research and is director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science at the Van Andel Institute. The company is preparing to conduct human clinical trials beginning in 2014.


  • On the Medical Mile in Grand Rapids, researchers from the Van Andel Institute and Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, working with colleagues in Sweden, say that they found for the first time “significant associations” between high levels of pro-inflammatory markers in cerebrospinal fluid in the brain and the severity of fatigue, depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment in people with Parkinson’s.

    Researchers hope the finding can eventually lead to new treatment options for Parkinson’s patients.


  • A Belgian study validated Kalamazoo-based CeeTox Inc.’s non-animal toxicity test.

    The study, funded by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and conducted by a team at the Flemish Institute for Technological Research’s Applied Bio and Molecular Systems, successfully predicted the sensitization potency in nine of 10 compounds using CeeTox’s SenCeeTox skin sensitization assay. The 10th compound was classified by a difference of one potency category.

    The PETA-funded study “is an important step toward validating a reliably predictive full replacement non-animal test for regulatory use,” CeeTox President Tim Mitchell said.

    PETA called the study’s results “particularly timely” because of a ban in Europe on the sale of cosmetics that were tested on animals. CeeTox and PETA reported the results late this past summer.

    Founded in 2003, CeeTox is a contract research organization that conducts toxicity and safety tests on cells models for cosmetics and household and agricultural products.
Read 2398 times Last modified on Saturday, 28 September 2013 14:39

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