Rare Daily Staff   

Aardvark Therapeutics raised $29 million in a series B financing to fund mid-stage clinical trials of its lead compound for the treatment Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder.

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a rare genetic disorder caused by a loss of function of specific genes on chromosome 15. In newborns, symptoms include weak muscles, poor feeding, and slow development. Occurring in 1 of 15,000 births, it results in profound insatiable hunger leading to severe obesity, diabetes, and behavioral problems.

Sorrento Therapeutics led the financing with participation from existing investors including Vickers Venture Partners, Premier Partners, BNH Investment, Korea Omega, and The Foundation for Prader-Willi Research.

“We believe our lead compound, ARD-101, is differentiated from existing standard-of-care drugs in both its anticipated safety profile as well as its potential broad spectrum of effects,” said Tien Lee, Aardvark CEO. “It is a first-in-class compound that impacts metabolic and inflammatory mediators.”

Aardvark, which is focused on developing and commercializing novel small molecule therapeutics to activate innate homeostatic pathways for the treatment of metabolic diseases, inflammation, and other indications, will use the funds to complete three phase 2 clinical trials, including one in PWS, of its lead compound, ARD-101, a potent first-in-class small molecule TAS2R (bitter taste receptor) pan-agonist. ARD-101 demonstrated safety in phase 1 human trials and has been shown to convey beneficial effects in animal models of obesity as well as hyperphagia, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and inflammation.

“Given the spectrum nature of PWS there is recognition that we will need multiple therapies to address the hallmark symptoms of the disorder,” said John Walter, CEO of the Foundation for Prader Willi Research. “Aardvark’s ARD-101 targets multiple pathways potentially relevant to PWS and has the potential of improving the lives of those suffering from PWS and those who care for them.”

Photo: Tien Lee, Aardvark CEO

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