Building a Potential Cure for Type 1 Diabetes

April 22, 2024 / New Investments

Over 300K Canadians, +1.5M Americans, and +9M individuals globally are living with Type 1 Diabetes. Although a seemingly difficult-to-treat disease, over the last several years there has been a strong wave of innovation and renewed interest in the space from big pharma and investors alike. For Lumira, we see the Type 1 diabetes space as an opportunity to address various components of the disease (improving current insulin regimens, delaying/preventing the destruction of beta cells, replacing beta cells, and regenerating/restoring beta cells) to develop a functional cure within the next 15 years. As a result of our these, Lumira has been proactively engaged in an in-depth evaluation of investment opportunities in the Type 1 Diabetes space for the last two and half years.

COUR Pharmaceuticals was identified through our proactive therapeutic area search process as a company with a compelling technology for the potential delay/prevention of the disease. Late in 2022, the drug TZIELD developed by Provention Bio was approved by the FDA establishing a path to market for drugs in this category, however it is widely recognized that this product will be difficult to access for most patients due to its narrow label, challenging dosing regimen, and immune exhaustive effect which leaves patients vulnerable to infectious diseases after chronic treatment.

The search for a more patient-friendly, scalable, and targeted approach led us to COUR’s antigen-specific tolerization platform, a modality that Lumira has followed for over a decade with broad potential across various autoimmune conditions. The company has developed a nanoparticle that tolerizes the immune system to any antigens it is loaded with, and any autoimmune disease where the disease-causing antigen(s) is known would therefore be a potential area to pursue. The company has generated strong proof-of-clinical concept data in celiac disease through its partnership with Takeda Pharmaceuticals. We believe the approach would be effective in the two lead programs that the company is pursuing – Type 1 Diabetes and Myasthenia Gravis – as well as other autoimmune conditions.

“There is an urgent need for innovative strategies aimed at restoring self-tolerance safely and more effectively in autoimmune disorders. We believe COUR’s proprietary and strongly differentiated platform is a versatile and first-in-class approach to meet this critical medical need. We are dedicated to collaborating with COUR and its partners to help advance these potentially cutting-edge treatments for immune-related diseases.” Benjamin “Beni” Rovinski, Ph.D., Managing Director, Lumira Ventures

After months of in-depth diligence and strategic structuring, we were ultimately able to bring on a strong group of investors to participate, and have created strong competitive dynamics by having around the table six strategic investors. Make no mistake, deals in these markets are hard and take longer to get done, but we believe our significant efforts will be worth the eventual return.

In January 2024, COUR Pharmaceuticals announced the closing of a $105M Series A financing, co-lead by Lumira Ventures and Alpha Wave Ventures, with participation from Roche Venture Fund, Pfizer (as part of the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative), Bristol Myers Squibb, Angelini Ventures, and the JDRF T1D Fund. This deal signifies (according to Pitchbook metrics); The largest private healthcare deal ever led by a Canadian-headquartered VC, the second largest private deal led by a Canadian-headquartered VC in 2023 across any sector (not just healthcare), the largest private healthcare deal in the US Midwest in 2023 and Lumira’s largest deal as a lead investor.


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