Index Ventures and Amunix Invest in Diartis Pharmaceuticals – New Biotech Company Will Focus on Clinical Development of Novel Diabetes Drug

04:58 EST 16 Feb 2011 | BioPortfolio

Mountain View, CA – February 16, 2011 – Diartis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a newly founded biotechnology company, announced today that it has received initial funding from Index Ventures, Amunix Inc., a U.S. based biotechnology company, and private investors. The company has also acquired a clinical-stage diabetes drug candidate from Versartis, Inc., VRS-859 (exenatide-XTEN), and with this initial funding will continue its development for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

A Phase 1a multi-center, blinded, placebo-controlled, single-ascending dose study is ongoing to evaluate the safety and ability of VRS-859 to maintain glycemic control for one month in T2DM patients after a single dose. The results of the Phase 1a study are anticipated in Q2 2011. The Phase 1a study will be followed later this year by a repeat dose (3 month) Phase 1b study comparing VRS-859 to Byetta® (exenatide injection) in T2DM patients. VRS-859 is intended as a once-monthly form of the GLP-1 analog, exenatide.

Commenting on the investment, Kevin Johnson, London based partner at Index Ventures said, “We are delighted to invest in Diartis Pharmaceuticals. The company will focus on moving this exciting compound rapidly through early clinical development. Given the dramatic rise in the number of people with type 2 diabetes, there is a significant market need for a longer acting form of the GLP-1 analog exenatide.”

About Diartis Pharmaceuticals
Diartis is a biotechnology company founded to develop therapeutics for the treatment of metabolic diseases that address both significant unmet medical needs as well as large market opportunities. The company’s lead product candidate is VRS-859, a once monthly form of the GLP-1 analog, exenatide, which is currently in a multi-center Phase 1a trial. Diartis is pursuing the development of new therapeutic proteins utilizing the Amunix novel half-life extension XTEN technology. XTEN is a novel hydrophilic sequence of natural amino acids and is expressed as a fusion protein with a therapeutically active peptide or protein. New compounds developed by Diartis using the XTEN technology are expected to provide improved therapeutic outcomes such as enhanced efficacy/compliance, fewer side effects, prolonged half-life (up to monthly dosing), as well as low-cost production and enhanced stability. Further information on Diartis can be found at

About Index Ventures
Index Ventures is a leading global venture capital firm active in technology venture investing since 1996. The firm is dedicated to helping top entrepreneurial teams in the Information Technology, Clean Technology and Life Science sectors build their companies into market defining global leaders. The firm has offices in Geneva, London and Jersey and focuses on investments from seed through growth stage companies. In the life sciences field, Index Ventures invests in companies with disruptive platform technologies capable of growing into global leaders. It has also pioneered the asset-centric investment model, focused on investing in single assets with the potential to be first or best in class. More recently it has expanded its focus into the diagnostic/medical device areas. Current portfolio companies include Aegerion, Cellzome, Cyrenaic, Funxional Therapeutics, Micromet, Molecular Partners, Mind-NRG, NormOxys, Novocure and Sequenta. Exits of note include Addex Pharma (ADXN), Genmab (GEN), PanGenetics (Abbott) and ParAllele Bioscience (Affymetrix). For more information, please visit

About Amunix
Amunix, Inc. creates biopharmaceuticals with an extended dosing interval (i.e., monthly instead of daily injections) and an improved delivery route (i.e., subcutaneous instead of intravenous). Amunix takes existing, clinically proven payloads to which it genetically fuses a long, hydrophilic, unstructured protein tail (‘XTEN’) that mimics the most widely used approach for half-life extension, PEGylation. Amunix is located in Mountain View, California. Please see for more information.

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For more information please contact:

Paul Westberg
SVP Business Development
Ph: 650 963-8595

Media (US) Media (UK)
Debra Bannister Nicole Yost / Jayne Crook
Corporate Communications College Hill
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