KALAMAZOO, MI — Those familiar with the research into diabetes treatments being done by Metabolic Solutions Development Co. in Kalamazoo say that work has been and is being facilitated by several other life-sciences companies started here during the last 10 years.
Significant to Metabolic Solutions publishing data last week on a new drug target it has identified for improving the treatment of type 2 diabetes, is Launch MI Lab, a 6-month-old, 2,300-square-foot wet laboratory that supports bioscience companies by providing affordable testing space and specialized lab instrumentation.
“This is a lab that specializes in special kinds of biochemistry that we
didn’t have access to,” said Jerry Colca, a Ph.D researcher who is chief scientific office of Metabolic Solutions Development
Located inside that Southwest Michigan Innovation Center (as is Metabolic Solutions Development Co.), Launch MI Lab allows bioscientists to rent space for days or weeks, as needed, to test new ideas.
Launch MI Lab was created with funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and other sources.
Its work includes instrumentation for proteomics, metabolomics,
bioanalytical quantitative analysis and mass spectrometry (a laboratory
technique that involves separating the components of a sample by their
mass, enabling scientists to identify them).
“Being able to access mass spec expertise and services, literally across the hall from our labs, was key to advancing this important scientific work,” Stephen C. Benoit, chief executive office of Metabolic Solutions said.
Speaking of the equipment the lab provides, Colca said, “We didn’t
have enough money to buy this stuff ourselves.”
Greg Cavey, Lab Manager for Launch MI Lab, said his facility prevented Metabolic Solutions from having to send its work out of the region. That would have cost time and money and not involved the personal interaction that is had here.
“Instead, MSDC was able to run experiments during the day based on data we generated for them the night before,” Cavey said.
“This is how it was meant to be — having the right scientific knowledge and capabilities here at just the right time,” Robert DeWit, president and CEO of the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, said in a press release. “We’re thrilled for MSDC, we applaud their talented scientists, and we’re pleased to have played a supportive role in their success.”
The Southwest Michigan Innovation Center is a 10-year-old, 69,000-square-foot incubator/accelerator for scientific research businesses, located in Western Michigan University’s Business, Technology and Research Park. It is home to 18 companies, including ProNai Therapeutics, Nanovir, CeeTox, Vestaron, Micromyx and Metabolic Solutions.
Last Wednesday, Metabolic Solutions published data on a new drug
target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in PLOS ONE, an online scientific publication that reports on
original research in science and medicine. Colca said that is a first
step in having scientific breakthroughs reviewed and acknowledged by
The drug target, called mTOT (for mitochondrial target of thiazolidinediones), is a cellular protein complex through which new anti-diabetic drugs can exert their insulin-sensitizing effects. The company has been developing two compounds considered mTOT Modulators. They are dubbed MSDC-0160 and MSDC-0602 and have been talked about as potential game-changers in diabetes treatment.
Metabolic Solutions has 14 employees who consult with a range of others in the
area. Colca said they have worked with Kalexsyn Inc., a fellow BTR Park company
that prepares new compounds for pharmaceutical
companies, to help create a probe used to identify the new drug target.
It has worked with drug development firm PharmOptima,
a former business park colleague firm, now located in Portage. And it has
contracted with testing labs Eurofins US (its operation in Portage started as Avtech) and Mattawan-based MPI Research Co. It has also used Jasper Clinic Research Development Inc. in downtown
Kalamazoo to conduct clinical trials.
Colca said the area’s scientific knowledge base is “built on this collection of people who were brought to this area of Michigan
by Upjohn and Parke-Davis.”
Metabolic Solutions was founded in 2006, about three years after Pfizer Inc.
acquired Pharmacia Corp.’s Kalamazoo operations and relocated the
pharmaceutical research work done here by legacy Pharmacia, Upjohn Co. and Parke-Davis