Weight-Loss Drug Startup Metsera Launches with $290M, Looks to Tap Lucrative Obesity Market

18 Apr 2024
Phase 1AcquisitionClinical Result
Pictured: Injection pens meant for weight-loss medications/iStock/CR New York-based Metsera emerged from stealth Thursday with $290 million in financing as it looks to target Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly’s duopoly in the hot weight-loss drug market with several oral and injectable candidates. The startup’s pipeline includes an injectable GLP-1 receptor agonistGLP-1 receptor agonist in Phase I trials, a dual amylin/calcitonin receptor agonist (DACRA) which is being combined with the GLP-1 agonistGLP-1 agonist, as well as a unimolecular GLP-1, GIP, Glucagon in combination with the DACRA. Metsera also has an oral peptide delivery platform with two IND-ready candidates and several other early-stage programs. “Metsera’s portfolio is designed to unlock new treatment strategies through scalable, sustainable and personalized interventions for weight loss, weight maintenance and disease prevention,” Stephen Bloom, senior vice president of research and development at Metsera, said in a statement. “Through optimized combinations of injectable and oral peptides, we aim to establish a cycle of continuous and responsive innovation to address a growing worldwide obesity crisis.” The company’s portfolio is sourced from a proprietary library of 20,000 gut hormone peptides and peptide/antibody conjugates. The biotech was founded in 2022 by venture capital firms ARCH Venture Partners and Population Health Partners and is led by former executives from The Medicines Company, which was acquired by Novartis in 2020 for $9.7 billion. According to Metsera, ARCH Venture Partners led Thursday’s financing and had participation from other investors, including Mubadala Capital, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, F-Prime Capital, GV, Newpath Partners, among other undisclosed participants. Metsera CEO Clive Meanwell said in a statement that the company has been “purpose-built” over the past two years, intending to get ahead of the “innovation curve” in the weight loss market. “We have assembled a portfolio of long-acting injectable and oral agents to address multiple next-generation weight loss goals,” Meanwell said. “With a proven team of world experts across multiple company functions, leading healthcare investors and proprietary health technology tools, we are well-positioned to rapidly advance our clinical-stage pipeline and create value for patients, health systems and investors.” While Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are currently the dominant players in the weight-loss drug market, other companies have been trying to get into the race and take a slice of the pie. Last month, Viking Therapeutics posted promising Phase I data for its oral obesity candidate VK2735, achieving a 3.3% drop in mean body weight against a placebo with a p-value of 0.0006. Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.
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