Israel's Betalin Therapeutics plans IPO to fund diabetes trials

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s Betalin Therapeutics is preparing an initial public offering that will value the biotech firm between $150-170 million to fund trials for its diabetes treatment, the company’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

Betalin is developing an artificial micro-pancreas that is implanted in the thigh of diabetics to help control the level of sugar in their blood. The system mimics the function of a healthy pancreas by secreting insulin and making daily injections unnecessary, said CEO Nikolai Kunicher.

The company, which is funded by private investors, is looking to raise about $40 million in an IPO in New York or London by the end of next year.

In the past year it won 5.5 million euros ($6.52 million) in grants from Europe’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

“By the end of next year we are planning to start clinical trials,” Kunicher said. “We will need to raise funds for the completion of phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials.”

The technology uses healthy donor cells that secrete insulin. Those cells are planted on a thin scaffold made out of tissue from pig lungs.

One of its advantages, Kunicher said, is that the implant process is relatively simple and done under local anesthesia.

Should the trials go smoothly, a final product is still some five years off, he said.

People with diagnosed diabetes have about 2.3 times higher medical expenditures, of which about $9,601 is attributed directly to the disease each year, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Betalin said its treatment will have a one-time cost of about $50,000.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Tomasz Janowski