iMetabolic Biopharma Corporation

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November 19, 2018 Issue



Q&A with Dr. Urban A. Kiernan, Founder and CEO of iMetabolic Biopharma Corporation developing a revolutionary therapy to fight obesity related diseases using their protein based biologic that targets Apolipoprotein CIII (ApoCIII) to lower blood fat



Dr. Urban A. Kiernan

Founder & Chief Executive Officer and Board Director


iMetabolic Biopharma Corporation


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – November 19, 2018


CEOCFO: Dr. Kiernan, what was the vision when iMetabolic Biopharma Corporation was founded? Where are you today?

Dr. Kiernan: The company was founded on the premise of developing therapies to treat obesity related diseases, a plague in western society. In our scientific discovery, which utilized conventional wet lab molecular biology techniques combined with twenty first century molecular dynamic simulation and modeling, we were able to come up with a strategy for the development of an initial therapeutic program. As we now move directly into this drug discovery and development process, our team has established a plan to target our primary indication but also to expand into a broader set of obesity related diseases.


CEOCFO: What have you figured out?

Dr. Kiernan: Our approach is based around the biology of a molecule called Apolipoprotein CIII (ApoCIII), which is actually kind of a hot topic when it comes to fat metabolism in the body. Our research not only has shown this as a viable target in the treatment of elevated blood fat, this has been validated by the research of others.


CEOCFO: If you understand the role what can you do to change it?

Dr. Kiernan: Our intent is to utilize our protein based biologic to simply disrupt the undesirable function that ApoCIII facilitates as a part of our body’s natural biologic process. We want to be able to maintain this natural balance and ability of the body to metabolize heavy dietary fat loads for a longer period of time. This is a growing issue here in western society, as we face the challenge of secondary factors causing obesity. These are poor diet and lack of exercise.  What we need to do is come down to the molecular level and preserve what the body is naturally supposed to do, but for an extended period of time. That is what we are trying to achieve. We are actually in a unique situation as our program is akin to a program within Akcea Therapeutics in terms of our specific target. They actually took their molecule Volanesorsen, which also targets ApoCIII, all the way through biologic license application with the FDA for the treatment of an orphan disease for of hyperlipidemia. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns related to their drug chemistry, the application was rejected. However, there was a lot we learned from their efforts and provided us with a very good template all the while independently validating ApoCIII as a therapeutic target.


CEOCFO: How does the protein or the biologic that you have work? How does it change what is happening?

Dr. Kiernan: Apolipoprotein CIII has multiple functions, but one thing it does is it acts like an inhibitor to the molecules that are responsible for digesting fat in the bloodstream. What our drug does is simply prevent this inhibition from actually taking place. We are not trying to mess with protein expression or gene silencing. Once the protein is expressed we are simply looking to stop it from shutting natural fat metabolism system off.


CEOCFO: What have you found so far in the process of research and development?

Dr. Kiernan: From a general research standpoint, there is so much opportunity out there. All you have to do is, in all honesty, open up your eyes and pay attention. Unfortunately, science is plagued with myopia and you can get so focused on a particular problem that you forget to see the forest through the trees. Just going back as part of our current drug discovery and development program, as well as other programs in development, we have realized that there are so many great ideas that were brought forward historically, but many were just simply too early for their time. The science and technologies that were required in order to do a good job just we not there. Coming back with a fresh perspective and putting a new spin on things with current technology there is room within the scientific community to come back and reevaluate them. A so called re-innovating of old ideas; from a humanity standpoint there are many good potential answers that can be enacted upon with today’s technology.


CEOCFO: Would you tell us a little bit about the team you have in place?

Dr. Kiernan: The team is small as we are a startup company. We have very broad backgrounds; myself as CEO, I have research and management skills through my previous roles in both small and large businesses that has spanned almost two decades. This experience has allowed me to observe and recognize the best of both worlds that small and large business offer. This always has me thinking about how we create a strategic game plan in which we grow from a small company into a large business. This obviously requires some grey hairs and we have this in our COO, Dr Stephen Naylor, who has a broad industry and academic background. We also have a couple of additional team members serving on board and/or in management roles that have very specialized skills in the area of business law as well as in accounting/finance. Then, above and beyond this core are our advisory boards. These boards are one of the real critical factors that I have focused on over the last two years as a part of the inception and development of iMetabolic Biopharma Corporation as an actual company. However, rather than just throwing them all into one board, we have formed a business advisory, a scientific advisor, as well as a medical advisory board. These boards have been populated with top tier thinkers with very broad, but very strong experience within each of their respective fields. This segregation allows management to ask very specific questions to capture on their expertise and then take those summaries across boards. This is working quite well for us as the mindsets between Ph.D., M.D. and MBA are all very different. It is amazing if you ask the same question to all three groups, how very different the answers coming forward actually are. However, having cross team discussions has allowed for the formulation of appropriate actionable items that we as a management team can actually execute on.


CEOCFO: Are you seeking funding, partnerships or investment? Where are you today?

Dr. Kiernan: Actually, all of the above! From a partnership standpoint there are some very specific initiatives that we are trying to push forward that extends beyond our management team’s core expertise. Working with an industrial partner can provide us with assistance in those specific areas, but since we are not under confidentiality I cannot reveal and specifics at this time. However, we are always looking to bring more partners in the form of advisory board members into the company. I really do not have a problem with having very good depth charts within these boards. It just adds a validity to the company. Then obviously, from any business standpoint, capitalization is a critical factor. We are always looking at capitalizing the company. We are still currently technically in our seed round, but we are looking at closing this very shortly here and moving forward with our Series A.


CEOCFO: Does the medical community and the investment community understand what you are doing? Is it a relatively easy concept?

Dr. Kiernan: Conceptually; I know that yes, they do get it. Functionally, no. When we speak with clinicians, obviously those that are versed in hyperlipidemia (elevated blood fat); they fully understand what it is that we are trying to achieve. There is actually a lot of support for what we are trying to do. Our program is really quite simple at its core. However, they are shackled by regulatory guidelines which limit adoption of new techniques, therapies and procedures. It takes a lot of strategic data to get over this hurdle. That is simply because there is a certain level of liability upon them. This is a drawn out process, obviously with going through the FDA clinical trials; which ultimately you need to make sure that not only do you get regulatory approval, but you also unequivocally answer the questions necessary to gain adoption by physicians as a part of those clinical trials. Simply put, are you answering all the questions that will satisfy a clinician and make them compelled to write the prescription for your drug for the benefit of their patients. If you miss a key factor then you have to go back and perform clinical trials in order to answer those questions. This becomes quite expensive. This is why our medical advisory board is separate from the scientific advisory board. It allows us to ask those key questions up front and ascertain those answers.

Now, regarding the investment community, they ask very different questions and look for very different answers. They look for, “When can we exit and what is our ROI on this deal.” They also ask specific questions regarding the management team and their potential view of whether or not you are going to be successful in this endeavor. They are just coming at it from a business mindset.


CEOCFO: Why is iMetabolic Biopharma Corporation an important company?

Dr. Kiernan: We are directly dealing with the epidemic that is driven by westernization. There is no other way to cut it. Every developing country is experiencing growth pains in the area of obesity and obesity related disorders. There needs to be a concerted effort to do better in terms of creating therapeutic interventions that will help these patients outside of the sound bite response of improved diet and exercise. Western society is, unfortunately, not allowing for much success with that type of prescription. If you look at the Centers in Disease Control, one in three Americans is now defined as clinically obese. This is not just an adult problem as twenty nine percent of pediatrics are now defined as clinically obese. This is absolutely frightening, because this is the future of our country. Seeing this level, these rates of obesity and the equivalent growth of obesity related diseases/their co-morbidities, is mind bogging. There are now obesity related diseases that are up to forty percent of the population in certain demographics that were not even defined as diseases twenty to twenty five years ago. It is absolutely bizarre to see how we have eaten ourselves into this problem. This massive problem is why iMetabolic Biopharma Corporation exists.



“Founded on the premise of developing therapies to treat obesity related diseases, a plague in western society.”
- Dr. Urban A. Kiernan


iMetabolic Biopharma Corporation



Urban Kiernan








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