GPER G-1 Development Group receives STTR Grant for the Development of an Innovative Diabetes Therapeutic Targeting GPER

GPER-1 Development Group LLC has licensed the promising technology from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University 

Albuquerque, NM – GPER G-1 Development Group, a portfolio company of the New Mexico Start-Up Factory, is developing a novel therapeutic for the treatment of diabetes and obesity.  The company’s leading drug candidate for the treatment of obesity (through weight loss) and the treatment of diabetes and pre-diabetes (by restoring insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis) is Tespria™, the GPER agonist G‑1.   University of New Mexico researchers, led by Dr. Eric Prossnitz, treated both female and male obese mice with Tespria™, resulting in significantly reduced body weight, decreased circulating cholesterol, increased energy expenditure, improved glucose tolerance and restored insulin sensitivity. The results demonstrate, for the first time, that GPER-selective agonism represents an innovative, safe and effective therapeutic approach for treating obesity and its associated metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) via the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has awarded the GPER G-1 Development Group a STTR grant in the amount of $300,000 to support the project titled “Development of an innovative diabetes therapeutic via GPER targeting.”  Dr. John Elling, the CEO of GPER G-1 Development Group, stated: “The company is making progress on developing a new compound that will significantly aid individuals with diabetes. Our compound, TespriaTM, has shown efficiency in mouse models and the molecule is currently being evaluated in human patients for another indication.  This grant will allow the company to extend tests carried out by Dr. Prossnitz and perform pre-clinical pharmacokinetic and toxicity studies.”

Dr. Prossnitz’s team at the University of New Mexico Health Science Center will play an important role in the grant by providing their expertise in animal models of diabetes and obesity as they relate to in vivo toxicology, acute dose-escalation and repeat dose-range finding studies of the molecule.  

GPER G-1 Development Group represents New Mexico-supported innovation at its finest – a biotech company making strides to bring forth the advancement of molecular medicine by developing discoveries made in the lab for applicable commercialization.  “I am proud that the results of our research are being advanced by a company that is working towards changing the way we treat and prevent diabetes and obesity,” said Prossnitz. “The ability to cultivate a promising technology discovered at the University of New Mexico and develop it through an STTR grant from the NIDDK is an incredible opportunity.”

Innovative discoveries made by scientists at The University of New Mexico are supported by UNM Rainforest Innovations, the university’s technology transfer and economic development organization. Dr. Prossnitz’s technology, developed at UNM, was licensed to GPER G-1 Development Group by UNM Rainforest Innovations, which plays a crucial role in New Mexico’s economic development by connecting the business community to UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of start-up companies. Lisa Kuuttila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer of UNM Rainforest Innovations stated “The NIH award is an important validation and next step in the development of this promising new drug to treat diabetes.  The Universities of New Mexico and its collaboration division, UNM Rainforest Innovations, are very pleased to see the additional funding toward commercialization.”

The portfolio company GPER G-1 Development Group was launched by New Mexico Start-Up Factory (NMSUF), a New Mexico based organization that specializes in commercializing laboratory technologies. The organization works with scientists looking to take their innovations out of the lab and into the market.  Through their program, companies like GPER G-1 Development Group are provided mentorship and resources to validate technologies and move them through the commercialization process.  The New Mexico Start-Up Factory also bridges the gap by providing their portfolio companies with early-stage funding opportunities as they focus on developing their products and teams. 

GPER G-1 is also supported through New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center that specializes in innovation and commercialization, working with faculty researchers, such as NMSU Regents Professor Jeffrey Arterburn, Ph.D., who was on Prossnitz’s team.  Arterburn said, “This is a great example of the transformative commercialization potential that results when you bring together the outstanding scientific expertise of our faculty at the major research universities in the state.”

NMSU’s Arrowhead Center Director Kathryn Hansen stated, “This has been an incredible opportunity to team with both the UNM Rainforest Innovations and the New Mexico Start-Up Factory through the Arrowhead Innovation Fund to support a new company with great potential to improve lives.” 

GPER G-1 Development Group will continue to support the advancement of this novel technology and its therapeutic applications in the marketplace.  For more information, please see the resources below:

*Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R41DK122856.

About GPER G-1 Development Group 

The GPER G-1 Development Group is a drug discovery and development company with the primary goal of advancing novel drug candidates that target GPER. The company has optioned a collection of unique compounds that selectively modulate GPER, either activating it or inhibiting it, for use in treating multiple diseases associated with this receptor.  The lead drug candidate is G-1 (TespriaTM), a GPER agonist, to treat obesity through weight loss, and to reverse diabetes and pre-diabetes.

About Dr. Eric Prossnitz

Dr. Prossnitz received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and completed post-doctoral training at the Scripps Research Institute, where he advanced to faculty before relocating to UNM in 1997. He is currently a professor in and chief of the Division of Molecular Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at UNM’s Health Sciences Center. Additionally, he is the Maralyn S. Budke Chair in Cancer Chemical Biology and Therapeutics and the co-director of the Cancer Therapeutics Research Program at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.  Dr. Prossnitz has more than 30 years of experience in studying receptor-mediated signaling and drug discovery, having been continuously funded by the NIH since 1994. The goal of his research is to determine the role of individual estrogen receptors in health and disease, particularly in diabetes, obesity and cancer. He has published over 200 articles in the area of GPCR biology and has made several important contributions to the GPCR field, in particular related to the 7-transmembrane G protein-coupled estrogen receptor GPER, including selective activators and inhibitors of this receptor. He received the 2002 UNM Dean’s Award of Distinction for Outstanding Faculty Performance, the 2009 UNM Excellence in Basic Research Award, and ten STC Innovation Awards. He holds eleven UNM-affiliated U.S. issued patents.

About UNM Rainforest Innovations

UNM Rainforest Innovations supports technology transfer and catalyzes economic development at the University of New Mexico.  The organization helps scientists move their technologies out of the lab and into the marketplace.  UNM Rainforest Innovations works with entrepreneurs to connect them with potential funders and specialists across industries. 

About Arrowhead 

Arrowhead Center is “your partner” and works to take advantage of innovation and business opportunities that improve the region’s economy.  The organization specializes in business creation, business growth, intellectual property and technology commercialization.  Arrowhead is a touchstone for collaborate efforts to improve the economic landscape of New Mexico and the Borderplex. 

About NIH – NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

NIDDK focuses on research that creates knowledge and promotes treatments for diseases that are among the most chronic, costly and consequential for patients, their families and the nation.  The mission of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is to conduct and support medical research and research training and to disseminate science-based information on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutritional disorders, and obesity; and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases, to improve people’s health and quality of life.


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GPER G-1 Development Group Logo attached