RARE Daily

Aardvark Therapeutics Raises $85 Million to Advance Experimental Prader-Willi Therapeutic

May 9, 2024

Rare Daily Staff

Aardvark Therapeutics said it raised $85 million in an oversubscribed series C financing to complete the clinical trials required for regulatory approval its lead experimental therapy, ARD-101, to treat hyperphagia in patients with Prader-Willi syndrome.

The company also hopes to show ARD-101’s complementary mechanism of action to the current GLP-1 therapies in the treatment of obesity, as well as advance other Aardvark pipeline programs.

Decheng Capital led the financing, with participation from Cormorant Asset Management, Surveyor Capital, SymBiosis, Tetragon Financial Group, Walleye Capital, Laurion Capital Management, LG Technology Ventures, Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., Silver Arc Private Capital, The Prader-Willi Syndrome Association – USA, and existing investors, including Vickers Venture Partners and the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research.

“We believe our lead compound, ARD-101, is a well-differentiated first-in-class drug candidate that is orthogonal and complementary to existing obesity drugs and reduces hunger through the selective induction of gut-brain signaling,” said Tien Lee, CEO of Aardvark Therapeutics. “The novel mechanism of action and gut-restricted nature of ARD-101 contribute to its encouraging safety and tolerability profile, as well as its broad-spectrum of activity.”

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a rare, severe neuro-developmental disorder that is caused by the loss of function of several genes located on chromosome 15. PWS impacts multiple organ systems and is characterized by metabolic, endocrine, and neurological dysfunction. One of the hallmark characteristics of PWS is hyperphagia-driven extreme and unrelenting hunger accompanied by developmental delays and musculoskeletal malformations. There are currently no approved therapies for the treatment of hyperphagia, which affects the health and quality of life of children and adults with PWS.

ARD-101 is a potent bitter taste receptor (TAS2R) pan-agonist that stimulates enteroendocrine cells of the digestive tract to release multiple gut-peptide hormones including GLP-1 and the satiety hormone Cholecystokinin (CCK), which activates gut-brain neurologic signaling to mediate hunger. ARD-101 has demonstrated an ability to reduce hunger when used alone or in combination with currently available GLP-1 therapies. Based on promising clinical data from an ongoing ARD-101 trial, the U.S food and Drug Administration has granted the drug both Orphan Drug and Rare Pediatric Rare Disease designations in PWS.

As part of the investment, Decheng Capital’s Managing Director, Victor Tong, Jr., joined Aardvark’s board of Directors. In August 2021, Aardvark announced its $29 million Series B preferred stock round led by Vickers Venture Partners.

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