Rhythm Drums Up $25M to Advance Diabetes and Obesity Drugs

6/13/12Follow @arleneweintraub

Boston-based Rhythm Pharmaceuticals is announcing today it has raised $25 million in a Series B financing round, bringing the total amount of capital hauled in by the two-year-old company to $65 million. Existing investors MPM Capital, New Enterprise Associates, and Third Rock Ventures participated in the funding, along with new investor Ipsen, the Paris-based drugmaker.

Rhythm was founded on two compounds licensed from Ipsen—one to treat a digestion-related complication of diabetes, and another to treat severe obesity in people who have diabetes or are at risk of developing it. CEO Keith Gottesdiener says Ipsen’s decision to sign on as an investor “shows what looks to them like a lot of progress with these compounds.”

Rhythm’s lead compound, RM-131, is in mid-stage trials to treat diabetic gastroparesis, a disorder marked by the delayed emptying of food from the stomach, which causes abdominal pain and bloating. Rhythm estimates that about one-third of the 24 million Americans with diabetes suffer from gastroparesis. There is one treatment—the generic drug metoclopramide—but it can cause a dangerous muscle disorder and therefore is not widely used. RM-131 is derived from ghrelin, a hormone in the stomach that promotes the movement of food through the digestive tract.

On May 22, Rhythm announced that in an early trial, RM-131 reduced gastric emptying time by 66 percent. “That effect is the strongest seen with any drug that has effects on gastric mobility in diabetes,” Gottesdiener says. “That was the data that really encouraged us to go forward [with the trials] and convincing people to invest in the Series B.”

A couple weeks later, Rhythm initiated mid-stage trials of RM-131. If all goes well, Gottesdiener says, those trials will … Next Page »

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