Helena Edlund and Thomas Edlund. Photo  Mattias Pettersson UmU
Professors Helena Edlund and Thomas Edlund, Betagenon.

Big EU euros to bring obesity and diabetes drug closer

Big EU euros to bring obesity and diabetes drug closer

Diseases with detrimental effects for billions

– An increase in calorie intake combined with an inactive life style has brought about a global epidemic of obesity, fatty liver and type 2 diabetes, all contributing to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. There is an enormous need for effective treatments of these wide spread metabolic diseases. So this large financial support from EU is both very important and encouraging, says Thomas Edlund, CEO of Betagenon and professor at Umeå University.


Targeting the key that controls the energy balance

AMPK, AMP Activated Protein Kinase, is the master regulator of energy balance at single cell and whole organism level. Since its activity decreases with increasing age, obesity and inactivity, AMPK is a promising target to prevent/cure obesity, fatty liver, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease associated with energy imbalance.

Energy shortage activates AMPK that in turn restores energy balance by increasing glucose and lipid metabolism, suppressing anabolic processes, and at the same time increasing blood flow and thus delivery of nutrients to target tissues. Betagenons approach is to activate AMPK.

Clinical trials with drug candidate

Betagenon’s substance O304 is the first AMPK activator to reach a clinical phase II trial to assess its efficacy and safety for patients with type 2 diabetes. In animal models the substance has already been shown to protect against diet induced obesity, fatty liver, insulin resistance, β-cell dysfunction, glucose intolerance, hyperlipidemia and diabetes. O304 also increases left ventricle stroke volume, cardiac output, peripheral blood flow and endurance (“Exercise mimetic”). 
Betagenon’s EU application received an outstanding score 14.64 out of 15 in the EU evaluation, and the implementation section was regarded as perfect.

Horizon 2020 in brief

Horizon 2020 is the EU's framework program for research and innovation. The program is the world's largest investment in research and innovation and has a total budget of around € 80 billion (2014-2020). The aim is to ensure the EU's global competitiveness. For more on Horizon 2020, see:


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Text: Karin Borge Renberg

Photo: Mattias Pettersson, Umeå University