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There’s no silver bullet for preventing Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) or the many other autoimmune diseases that affect about 4% of the world’s population today. Fortunately, IM Therapeutics (IMT) recently received $10 million in Series A financing that will provide a critical foundation to the research and development of a groundbreaking new treatment that may slow the onset and prevent the advancement of these diseases.
After nearly a decade of planning, in 2015, Dr. Aaron Michels and Dr. Peter Gottlieb founded IM Therapeutics at the Barbara Davis Center which is located on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (CU). This company was created with the goal
of developing a targeted therapy that will allow pre-selection of a patient for treatment designed specifically against the autoimmune condition. The creation of the company was made possible with the help of angel investor Ed Orr, a 4th generation
rancher, entrepreneur, and successful businessman based in Colorado who currently serves on the company’s board of directors. His personal life experience and passion for the cause were instrumental in the company’s inception.
The funding was co-led by the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) T1D Fund and Morningside Ventures, a private equity group, with participation from the CU Healthcare Innovation Fund. Together, these entities will advance research and positively
impact thousands of lives.
IMT was the brainchild of the two doctors who both have personal connections to type 1 diabetes (T1D), and both possess a passion for making life easier for people who are diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, particularly, but not limited to, T1D. “The backing from CU will be instrumental in this research,” Dr. Gottlieb explains.
"It’s very exciting where we are today. We’ve discovered an approach that makes intellectual sense, minimizes side effects, and in some ways, allows us to not have to know everything about why it works"
There’s no better motivation to develop solutions to minimize side effects, slow the onset of disease, and make life easier for people living with these conditions than having a personal connection to it. No one knows this better than Dr. Aaron
Michels, who has been living with the disease since age 13. “I was young when I found out, but old enough to know that this diagnosis would affect me for the rest of my life. Living with T1D ignited my desire to attend medical school to
become an endocrinologist so that I could help others,” he says.
For people who develop type 1 diabetes or other autoimmune diseases, a diagnosis can seem daunting and hopeless. While there’s no known cause of T1D, certain genes increase a person’s risk for developing it, as does family history. Dr. Michels experienced this firsthand, when his daughter was diagnosed at age five. As if he needed another reason to dedicate his career to finding ways to personalize therapies and make life easier for those diagnosed. “I have the drive, the desire, and the motivation to make this my life’s work,” he attests. The groundbreaking new research and development of a drug that blocks the action of certain human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene variants provides the hope that many families have been searching for.
Dr. Peter Gottlieb has been in the field and passionate about preventing T1D for 25 years. His mother had and both of his children have T1D, so since the 80’s, he’s been studying why autoimmune diseases occur and how they can be prevented. Since the inception of IMT, he’s been looking to be more targeted in his research and deal with the disease at the heart of it.
“It’s very exciting where we are today. We’ve discovered an approach that makes intellectual sense, minimizes side effects, and in some ways, allows us to not have to know everything about why it works,” he explains. Just knowing
that it does work is huge step in the right direction. The discovery is life-changing and has the potential to positively affect thousands of lives.
They hope to be treating people with the new drug by June of this year.
Written by Lindsay Nichols
Dr. Gottlieb is Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine with tenure at the University of Colorado Health Science Center, and Director of Translational Research Unit at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, and a practicing endocrinologist. Dr. Gottlieb is active in diabetes research, and currently serves as an Investigator for Type 1 Diabetes at Trialnet, Center Director for T1D Trialnet research at the University of Colorado, member of the Gastroparesis Clinical Research Consortium Data Safety Monitoring Board at NIDDK/Johns Hopkins, member of the Steering Committee of the T Cell Workshop at Immunology of Diabetes Society, and member of Viacyte Data Safety and Monitoring Board. He has previously served the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as member and President of Board of Trustees Mountain States Region. Dr. Gottlieb currently serves on the Editorial Board of Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics, the European Journal of Clinical Investigation, and as a reviewer for Current Opinion in Diabetes and Endocrinology, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Diabetes, and Diabetes Care, and has authored or co-authored numerous publications in peer reviewed journals. Dr. Gottlieb earned a BS degree, Cum Laude, from University of Pennsylvania and MD degree from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Dr. Michels is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Medicine, & Immunology at the University of Colorado Denver, the Frieda and George S. Eisenbarth Clinical Immunology Endowed Chair, Director of Clinical Immunology at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, and a practicing endocrinologist. Dr. Michels is active in Diabetes research and has authored or co-authored many articles published in peer reviewed journals. His research focuses on understanding the basic immunology of type 1 diabetes to design specific therapies to prevent and stop the autoimmune destruction of insulin producing cells. He discovered that small ‘drug-like’ molecules targeted to diabetes risk HLA molecules can block self-reactive T cell responses and translated these findings from bench to bedside. He is also involved in clinical trials using medications to safely alter the immune system to prevent and treat type 1 diabetes. Dr. Michels has lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 20 years and is committed to caring for patients with diabetes along with pursuing research to prevent and ultimately cure type 1 diabetes. Dr. Michels earned a BS degree in chemistry, Summa cum laude, and MD degree from Creighton University.