11 Jan IU VENTURES INVESTS IN INDIANA-BASED ADIPO THERAPEUTICS, FOUNDER OF BREAKTHROUGH TECHNOLOGY TO TREAT TYPE 2 DIABETES AND OTHER METABOLIC DISEASES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 11, 2022
Lafayette, Ind. – IU Ventures, Indiana University’s early-stage venture and angel investment arm, has invested $150,000 in Adipo Therapeutics, a pre-clinical stage company seeking to transform the treatment of metabolic diseases, including type two diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and obesity. IU Ventures is providing funding to Adipo to further develop the company’s breakthrough technology platform through the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, which aims to bridge gaps in venture funding by making equity investments in high-potential early-stage companies with IU affiliations.
Adipo is led by CEO Karen Wurster, a pharmaceutical executive with over 25 years of experience in developing and commercializing billion-dollar diabetes products and an IU Kelley School of Business alumna. The company was founded by Meng Deng, Ph.D., an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, materials engineering, and biomedical engineering at Purdue University.
“IU Ventures’ investment in Adipo Therapeutics provides us an opportunity to tackle the dual epidemics of obesity and T2DM, which currently impact one out of three Hoosiers,” said Wurster. “We are excited to further our development through proof-of-concept studies in human fat with the funding provided in this bridge round.”
Current treatments for T2DM range from repetitive insulin injections to individualized gene therapy. Adipo’s unique mechanism, transforming white fat tissue through the process of browning, provides an alternative, more localized therapy and has the potential to harness the body’s own physiology to address insulin resistance. Research studies have demonstrated that higher levels of brown fat correlate with lower odds of developing T2DM and cardiometabolic diseases, contributing to weight loss and improved glucose stability with minimal side effects.
Indiana ranks among the highest states in the country for obesity, with over 35 percent of the Hoosier population considered obese. Despite multiple available treatments, most treated patients are not reaching therapeutic goals, resulting in 8-year reduction in life expectancy and $327 billion in U.S. medical costs. Adipo has incorporated into its development technologies licensed from the Purdue Research Foundation, collaborations with the IU School of Medicine, and lab space at the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute.
“In addition to looking for a financial return to continue the growth of our evergreen fund model, IU Ventures places a lot of emphasis on how our support can help to improve lives. The amazing research done by the team at Adipo is showing favorable signs in the diabetes space, which has the potential for major implications for the state of Indiana as well as globally,” said Jason Whitney, chief venture officer at IU Ventures and executive director of the IU Angel Netowrk.
The company has recruited an experienced team of drug development experts to provide specific technical expertise and support for projects, including a collaboration with Dr. Robert Considine, a professor of medicine in the Division of Endrocrinology at the IU School of Medicine, to run in-vivo proof of concept studies.
To date, Adipo has raised a total of $2.2M seed funding from angel investors, Purdue Ventures and Elevate Ventures, and is now raising a bridge to its series A financing round.
About IU Ventures:
IU Ventures invests in and supports IU-affiliated early-stage companies. Its investment programs include the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, IU Angel Network, Shoebox Fund and Innovate Indiana Fund. It further supports IU founders through the Executive in Residence Program and IU Founders and Funders Network. Student support is provided through a variety of engagements, including the new IU Venture Fellows Program. Each program takes unique approaches to accelerate and support the positive impacts that entrepreneurs affiliated with IU already achieve across the world. IU Ventures is a recognized leader in increasing opportunities for diverse and historically underserved entrepreneurs and investing in Indiana startups with a shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.