Dianomi Therapeutics receives $3 million investment

Ligand Pharmaceuticals helps fund osteoarthritis drug development

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Madison-based Dianomi Therapeutics Inc. has received a $3 million investment from fellow biopharmaceutical firm San Diego-based Ligand Pharmaceuticals, the companies announced.

Dianomi is developing treatments for inflammatory diseases, and plans to first target osteoarthritis with its Mineral Coated Micropartical technology. The startup was established in 2017, using technology licensed from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, by Barry Kurokawa, William Murphy, Anna Clements, Kurtis Knapp and Carter Cliff. The MCM technology delivers the drug in a sustained manner, which can help reduce dosing levels and improve patient compliance.

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Dianomi plans to use the investment to optimize its delivery system with IL-1Ra and a corticosteroid, said Kurokawa, chief executive officer.

“Murphy’s lab has honed the MCM technology over the last decade, enabling Dianomi to quickly move forward with product development opportunities to aid patients with osteoarthritis and pain,” he said. “Additionally, because this technology is so versatile, it has the potential to be used with many other products to provide a much-improved dosing regimen, applicable for products in development or already on the market. Our proprietary technology provides the opportunity to breathe new life into products that are looking at impending patent expiration or experiencing increased competition, thus providing next-generation treatment options.”

Ligand is focused on drug discovery and early stage drug development, and it has a broad portfolio of biotech and pharmaceutical partners. In addition to its investment, Ligand will offer technical and scientific advisory assistance to Dianomi for one year.

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In return for its investment, Ligand is to receive a tiered royalty of 2 or 3 percent, based on net sales, for the first five products Dianomi develops with the MCM technology, as well as a $1 million convertible loan.

“We are pleased to invest in Dianomi as the company works to develop therapeutics using its microparticle technology,” said John Higgins, chief executive officer of Ligand. “MCM has a broad range of applicability, as well as the potential to improve and extend many of the therapeutic benefits of both novel and existing drugs, similar to Ligand’s Captisol technology. This investment helps fund a promising company and will provide potential royalties to Ligand on products that could complete development in the next several years and generate revenue into the late 2030s.”

An amended SEC filing last week indicated Dianomi was working to raise a $2 million in debt from investors—a separate round it launched in March 2018. That raise reached just $185,000, and will now be closed, Kurokawa said.

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