Epidarex Capital leads initial investment in international diabetes start up

Published: 5 November 2015

Caldan Therapeutics, a spin-out company from the Universities of Glasgow and Southern Denmark, has announced a £4.45 million ‘Series A’ investment led by Epidarex Capital.

Caldan Therapeutics Ltd (Caldan) has announced a £4.45 million ‘Series A’ investment led by Epidarex Capital, a leading international early-stage life science venture capital fund. Eli Lilly and Company is one of numerous limited partners in the fund.  Scottish Enterprise’s investment arm, the Scottish Investment Bank, also participated in the round. 

Caldan, a spin-out company from the Universities of Glasgow and Southern Denmark, is developing novel therapeutics targeting free fatty acid receptors for Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) and other potential indications. Caldan has arisen from a long-term collaboration between Professor Trond Ulven at the University of Southern Denmark and Professor Graeme Milligan of the University of Glasgow.

It is estimated that there are 380 million people with T2D worldwide and the prevalence is estimated to rise to 592 million by 2035. T2D is a serious disease which can lead to secondary complications including cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, neuropathy and adult onset blindness.  The healthcare costs of patients with diabetes are typically at least double of those patients without diabetes.

There is a significant market need for T2D treatments that address all aspects of the disease, including insulin resistance, pancreatic islet cell failure, inappropriate insulin secretion, and inflammation in muscle, liver and adipose tissue. Due to their involvement in multiple aspects of the disease process, free fatty acid receptors have emerged as exciting targets for T2D. Caldan is focused on creating drugs that activate these receptors in order to deliver a range of anti-diabetic effects in multiple tissues and organs which would provide a step change in the treatment of T2D. 

“We’re very pleased that Caldan is receiving the backing of Epidarex Capital and their partners,” said Professor Milligan, Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Gardiner Chair of Biochemistry. “The underpinning basic science studies that have pointed the way to assess this new type of treatment for T2D has been a true multidisciplinary collaboration between researchers here in Glasgow and our partners in Denmark. Our combined knowledge has led us to develop approaches we would never have created individually.”

Professor Ulven, Head of Research for Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology said, “Combined, we believe our approach towards these receptors could do what T2D patients need. We have built up insight into these receptors over the last few years, and are equipped to potentially generate safe and efficacious compounds with the right properties.”

Elizabeth Roper, Partner at Epidarex Capital said, “Caldan provides an opportunity for Epidarex to back two leading scientific founders in the T2D space with some exciting new approaches.”   Epidarex Capital’s close partnership with leading research institutions in under-ventured markets is core to its investment model of providing early-stage risk capital to top researchers and entrepreneurs who are developing highly innovative solutions for the global healthcare market.

 “We are excited that Epidarex has chosen to invest in this opportunity. Diabetes is also a therapeutic area of focus for Lilly, given our strong legacy and scientific expertise in this area,” said Darren Carroll, senior vice president of corporate business development for Lilly. “Investments in external innovation are an important part of our strategy as we strive to complement the molecules we’re developing in our labs with the best discoveries from outside the company.”

Media enquiries: ross.barker@glasgow.ac.uk / 0141 330 8593

First published: 5 November 2015