Chinese investment firm Ivy Capital is investing almost three million USD into Umeå-based biotechnology firm Betagenon.
Betagenon has identified an enzyme activator that is intended as a drug candidate for multiple lifestyle and age disorders such as diabetes and heart failure. Ivy Capital is now investing SEK 28.5 million into Betagenon to help support clinical development of the drug.
“This investment is incredibly important to us and the development of our product. We hope to produce a cure for widespread diseases,” says Thomas Edlund, Co-Founder and CEO of Betagenon. “This investment will facilitate and accelerate the development of a global drug for many common diseases. We will also be able to benefit from Ivy Capital’s network in the Chinese biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.”
The AMPK enzyme
Many of the positive health effects of exercise, together with a limited calorie intake, are due to a decrease in energy levels in our cells, which activates the enzyme AMPK. Activation of AMPK in turn stimulates the uptake and burning of sugar and fat, which restores the energy level in the cells. An increased uptake and burning of sugar has obvious benefits for obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders and diseases.
“Exercise and activation of the AMPK enzyme also has positive effects on the heart and blood vessels, which increases blood flow in the body. This in turn increases the supply of sugar, fat and oxygen to various tissues and organs, which leads to higher rates of energy conversion. This has positive effects on various cardiovascular diseases,” says Thomas Edlund. “AMPK activation also signals to a cell to stop growing or dividing and instead clean up, reuse and repair various components, which reduces the growth of some cancer cells.”
Directly activating AMPK with chemical substances could therefore be expected to give similar effects to exercise and have a positive impact on many lifestyle and age-related diseases. Betagenon has successfully identified a unique AMPK activator called O304. Treatment with O304 In different animal models exhibits similar positive effects to exercise in cases of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and a variety of other conditions. The O304 activator has undergone clinical phase 1 and phase 2 trials, as well as toxicological studies in animals for a long time without any resulting side effects.
New possibilities for the treatment of a number of disease
“This demonstrates that we are leading the global clinical and commercial development of AMPK activators,” says Thomas Edlund. “In addition, we have recently developed a new O304 variant called O304X that is absorbed much more efficiently in the blood than the original O304 substance. This opens up entirely new possibilities for the treatment of a number of diseases.”
The Ivy Capital investment will be used to start the initial O304X test in humans and to plan for O304X clinical phase 2 trials for heart failure and diabetic kidney disease.
Photo of Helena and Thomas Edlund, Betagenon