Biotech company's research could help people affected by obesity

August 11, 2015  

Park symmetry

Thomas H. Reynolds and Jon Brestoff Parker of Symmetry Therapeutics Inc. conduct research on SYM401, a compound that might help people affected by obesity. Purdue alumnus Milad Alucozai is chief operating officer of the company, which launched an online campaign to raise funds to complete development steps. (Symmetry Therapeutics image)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., PHILADELPHIA and SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - A Purdue University alumni scientist and entrepreneur, along with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Skidmore College, are raising funds to further test and develop compounds that could hold promise in treating people who are extremely overweight.

Purdue alumnus Milad Alucozai is co-founder and chief operating officer of Symmetry Therapeutics Inc., which is commercializing patented research developed by co-founders Jon Brestoff Parker and Thomas H. Reynolds. Parker is a Skidmore alumnus who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, where he will complete his M.D. in May 2016. Reynolds is associate professor of health and exercise sciences at Skidmore and has received grants from the National Institutes of Health in the area of insulin action and metabolism.

Parker said obesity affects one in three American adults and one in six American children. It costs the country more than $200 billion in health care costs annually and increases the risk of developing, and could make people susceptible, to other diseases including various cancers, diabetes and heart disease.

"Lifestyle changes alone may not be enough for some people, and biological factors need to be addressed to maximize the likelihood of a successful weight loss program," he said. "Symmetry's belief is that the best way to tackle obesity is a combination of lifestyle changes plus effective medical therapy."

Symmetry Therapeutics has developed SYM401, the company's lead compound, to determine whether it could affect Type 2 diabetes in mice.

"In the span of a month, mice with pre-existing obesity lost 20 percent of their body weight and about 50 percent of their fat mass," said Reynolds, the company's chief scientific officer.

The company has been issued three U.S. patents and has established proof-of-principle. Alucozai said the company now faces several development steps.

"Our short-term goals are to expand our pre-clinical testing and advance to clinical trials with our lead compound within a few years," he said. "If we receive approvals from the FDA, it positions us to complete Phase I and II clinical trials shortly after that."

Symmetry Therapeutics, which has been self-funded by the co-founders, has launched a campaign on Indiegogo to complete development steps. The campaign can be found at Alucozai said the campaign will play an important role in the company's growth.

"The more money that supporters can donate to the campaign, the faster Symmetry Therapeutics can look to go into clinical trials," he said. "To encourage supporters, we are partnering with Dr. Paul Arciero, DPE, a Purdue alumnus and tenured professor at Skidmore College who is known as Dr. Paul on multiple blogs and television programs. He and Indiana-based Actahealth LLC will provide supporters with research-based tools and resources to empower healthy living."

Among the company's advisers are biomedical scientists, business leaders and experts from Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Purdue.

About Symmetry Therapeutics Inc.

Symmetry Therapeutics is an early-stage biotech company developing a new class of anti-obesity pharmaceuticals. Obesity is one of the most pressing health issues today, with a high toll on health that accounts for about 20 percent of health-care expenditures in the United States every year. The health and economic consequences of obesity are unsustainable. And anyone who has struggled to lose weight knows that sometimes diet and exercise aren't enough, and that people could use another option to help them in their efforts to improve their health. Symmetry is translating patented scientific advances into meaningful therapeutic options for patients.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. The Purdue Foundry is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at 

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342,

Sources: Milad Alucozai,

Jon Brestoff Parker,

Thomas H. Reynolds, 

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