15.3 C
Los Angeles
Monday, May 6, 2024

Metsera has emerged from stealth with $290 million in hand

TechnologyMetsera has emerged from stealth with $290 million in hand

Clinical-stage Metsera has emerged from stealth with $290 million in hand and the bold vision of ushering in the next generation of obesity and metabolic disease medicines.

“It’s an almost limitless market opportunity,” Metsera CEO Clive Meanwell, M.D., told Fierce Biotech in an interview. The leader is a British oncologist with an extensive industry track record that includes founding and leading The Medicines Company, a biotech that homed cardiovascular medicine inclisiran (Leqvio) and was acquired by Novartis in 2019 for $9.7 billion. “I think we have a real shot here of making some major products.”

Clive Meanwell
MetseraCEO Clive Meanwell, M.D. (Metsera)
Meanwell also helped form and is a partner of private equity firm Population Health Partners. The firm, alongside Arch Venture Partners, launched Metsera during biotech’s “nuclear winter” in early 2022, the CEO explained.

However, the company was able to stay warm in stealth with the help of several other investors such as F-Prime Capital, GV, Mubadala Capital, Newpath Partners and SoftBank Vision Fund 2, alongside other undisclosed investors.

The $290 million financing was led by founder Arch and is a series A round that includes a “little seed” money, according to Meanwell.

“There was emerging evidence that diabetes and weight loss was going to become a big category,” he said, explaining how Metsera came to be.

“Initially, we had discussions with Big Pharma about their appetite for investing—I’d say in 2020, it was sort of lukewarm,” Meanwell said. “Nobody had quite seen the juggernaut that was coming.”

Dive Brief:
Metsera, a richly funded biotechnology startup, launched Thursday with a portfolio of weight loss drugs the company claims could eventually compete with market-leading medicines from Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly.

In its first official announcement, the biotech, whose existence was revealed by Endpoints News earlier this month, said it has two therapies in clinical testing already. Another “handful” could join in the next year, CEO Clive Meanwell said in an interview.

The biotech has raised $290 million in funding, led by co-founding investment firms Arch Venture Partners and Population Health Partners. It’s already used some of that cash to build a drug portfolio of oral and injectable drugs as well as prospects that simultaneously target multiple gut hormones.

Dive Insight:
Like many others in the industry, Meanwell was struck by the success of Lilly’s Mounjaro and Novo’s Wegovy, which proved so effective in testing that their makers have struggled to keep up with demand.

Analysts now project a market worth more than $100 billion, a prize that’s sparked a gold rush among large and small companies to follow in Lilly’s and Novo’s footsteps.

Meanwell, an industry veteran who sold his last company to Novartis for nearly $10 billion, also acknowledged the high bar set by Mounjaro and Wegovy. Developing equivalently effective drugs is the “table stakes” for any aspiring competitors, he said.

With the help of Arch and the venture firm, Population Health, that he chairs, Meanwell put together an investor syndicate, raised an unusually large bankroll, and used it to scour the globe for weight loss therapies. The goal was to create a startup that could “go after the second, third, or even fourth generation” of obesity medicines — the ones that might eventually supplant Mounjaro and Wegovy, he said.

“The first generation of products are a godsend,” said Arch managing director Kristina Burow. But people “are going to need different drugs” to cut weight without also losing muscle mass or dealing with side effects, she added. “There is room for more than two players.”

Metsera wants to become one with a portfolio strategy that most companies outside of Lilly and Novo aren’t pursuing, according to Meanwell. With the $290 million it raised, the company acquired U.K.-based biotech Zihipp and formed a licensing pact with Korean drugmaker D&D Pharmatech. The former deal gave it a library of drug prospects targeting different gut hormones. The latter involved a technology capable of making oral versions of those drugs. The company’s done other smaller deals as well, but Meanwell wouldn’t provide specifics.

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles