Today, TetraGenetics, a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for autoimmune diseases, announced it has received an investment from the JDRF T1D Fund. Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed.
The JDRF T1D Fund is a venture philanthropy fund accelerating life-changing solutions to treat, prevent, and cure type 1 diabetes (T1D) through catalytic commercial investments. Through its investments in partnership with private capital, including venture capital, pharma and foundations, the T1D Fund seeks to attract the private investment necessary to advance drugs, devices, diagnostics, and vaccines into the hands of those living with T1D. The T1D Fund will invest in areas strategically aligned with JDRF, with an exclusive focus on the best commercial opportunities. The T1D Fund will reinvest any realized gains into new investments to further its mission.
The companies’ press release explains that in T1D, a subset of immune cells (antigen-specific T-cells referred to as effector memory T-cells) attack and destroy insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. These effector memory T-cells are associated with the autoimmune cascade that causes type 1 diabetes and they contain high levels of the Kv1.3 ion channel proteins. The Kv1.3 ion channel has been well studied, but developing drug candidates that block its activity has been difficult. TetraGenetics used its proprietary technology to discover a pool of novel monoclonal antibodies that inhibit Kv1.3 activity. The monoclonal antibodies discovered by TetraGenetics can target the Kv1.3 ion channel proteins, thus having the potential to blunt the body’s attack on its own healthy beta cells. This therapy could play a role in secondary prevention and treatment of T1D, and may contribute, in combination with other therapies, to an eventual cure.
“This has the potential to be a first-in-class disease modifying immunotherapy for T1D,” said Jonathan Behr, Managing Director of the T1D Fund. “We are excited to invest in the critical work necessary to advance delivery of potentially transformational therapeutics for those with T1D.”
Douglas Kahn, Chairman and CEO of TetraGenetics said, “Support from the JDRF T1D Fund couldn’t have come at a better time, enabling us to select the best of our antibodies and advance our lead drug candidate in preparation for clinical trials. The investment funding and access to JDRF experts will significantly accelerate our T1D drug development program.”