Hayward, Calif.’s Metabolex, a biotech company developing treatments for diabetes and related metabolic disorders, said it has raised $32 million in a fourth round of financing.

It was led by MPM BioEquities. New investors AllianceBernstein, Deerfield Management and T. Rowe Price also participated in the round, joined by existing investors Alta Partners, Bay City Capital, Biotech Turnaround Fund, Birchmere Ventures, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, KBC Funds, Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch, Pictet Funds (LUX) – Biotecho, Merlin Biomed, Novo Ventures, VantagePoint Ventures, Venrock Partners and Versant Ventures.

The company has raised about $200 million over the years.

From the release (here):

The company plans to use the additional funds to accelerate the clinical testing of MBX-8025 and the development of several promising preclinical programs. MBX-8025 may represent a novel approach to treating dyslipidemia; a Phase 1 study demonstrated MBX-8025 could reduce lipid parameters, such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides. The company’s lead insulin sensitizer, MBX-102, is now in a 400-patient Phase 2/3 study in patients with type 2 diabetes who use insulin. Metabolex entered into a strategic alliance with Ortho-McNeil, Inc. in 2006, giving Ortho-McNeil an exclusive license for worldwide development and commercialization of MBX-102 and MBX-2044, a follow-on insulin sensitizer. Metabolex is conducting the Phase 2/3 trial of MBX-102 and a Phase 2a trial of MBX-2044.

Both MBX-102 and MBX-2044 may lower blood glucose by improving insulin resistance, an underlying cause of type 2 diabetes. Metabolex’s compounds activate genes that are linked to insulin sensitization without modulating genes associated with weight gain and edema, as is seen in currently marketed insulin sensitizers from the thiazolidinedione (TZD) class. Clinical research to date suggests the difference in gene expression may offer the efficacy advantages of TZDs with an improved safety profile.
In addition, preclinical work has shown that MBX-102 may have potent anti-inflammatory activity. Inflammation has been linked to the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, suggesting an additional mechanism by which Metabolex’s drugs may control the disease process in diabetes.