Xeris raises $41M to develop diabetes injection pen for glucagon administration

G-Pen Mini glucagon autoinjector--Courtesy of Xeris

Austin, TX's Xeris Pharmaceuticals wrapped up a $41 million Series C financing round, as it heads toward approval (or rejection) of its diabetes injection pen for the administration of glucagon, a hormone normally secreted by the pancreas that raises blood glucose levels. The round raises the company's total fundraising haul to about $60 million.

The room temperature-stable formulation for acute cases of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is in Phase III trials. The financing will help the 16-person company accelerate clinical and commercialization activities, according to a release.

"The current emergency kit on the market involves dry powder in a vial that has to be manually mixed up and is a nine-step process," Xeris CEO Douglas Baum told the Austin American-Statesman. "Ours is premixed and is sort of an EpiPen for diabetics. It's two steps; you take off the cap and press it against the skin and it delivers the (drug) right away."

The emergency kit is sold as Glucagon for Injection by Eli Lilly ($LLY).

Other variants of Xeris' glucagon formulation are in Phase II testing, including one for long-term administration to prevent and treat hypoglycemia. Baum said in a statement that the funding will also help advance the earlier-stage programs.

The formulation is based on the company's XeriSol drug delivery platform, which can apparently result in the creation of nonaqueous solutions of peptide and small-molecule drugs, resulting in improved drug delivery.

In November 2014, the FDA and the European Medicines Agency granted Xeris orphan drug designation for its soluble formulation of pump-delivered glucagon to treat persistent hypoglycemia in the rare disease congenital hyperinsulinism, enabling faster approval.

The round was led by Redmile Group. It also included new investors Deerfield Management and Sabby Management, along with The McNair Group and other existing investors. The financing comes on the heels of a $17.9 million round in early 2015 that included $4.9 million in converted debt, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Meanwhile, research presented at last year's annual American Diabetes Association meeting demonstrated the potential of intranasal glucagon and dual-hormone pumps that deliver both insulin and glucagon.

And in October, Fremont, CA-based Zosano reported that its Phase II study of its transdermal ZP-Glucagon patch for severe hypoglycemia came through with positive results, and said that it is considering mounting a pivotal study.

- read the release
- get the Austin American-Statesman story