Adipo Therapeutics completes $1.9M seed funding bridge to advance obesity and Type 2 diabetes treatment – Purdue University News

Adipo Therapeutics CEO Karen Wurster. Adipo Therapeutics has successfully raised $1.9 million in bridge funds that will be used to complete critical studies to demonstrate its lead asset can convert energy-storing white adipose tissue to energy-burning brown adipose tissue in human fat. (The ESC Plan photo/Charles Jischke)

INDIANAPOLIS — Adipo Therapeutics, a late-stage, preclinical biopharmaceutical company developing treatments for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, announced on Wednesday (Jan. 31) the successful completion of a $1.9 million bridge fund round.

To date, Adipo has raised a total of $4 million in seed funding to advance the development of its lead asset ADPO-002 for the treatment of obesity through increased energy expenditure.

The bridge financing is being used to complete critical studies to demonstrate ADPO-002 can convert energy-storing white adipose tissue to energy-burning brown adipose tissue in human fat. In addition to several angel investors, key investors in Adipo include Purdue Research Foundation, Elevate Ventures, IU Ventures and VisionTech Partners.

“We are excited by Adipo’s newest milestones. We have assisted Adipo in its novel approach to treat obesity and Type 2 diabetes through IP support and entrepreneur-in-residence resources,” said Brooke Beier, senior vice president at Purdue Innovates. “The Purdue Research Foundation was an early investor in this technology that originated from Purdue University. We continue to be supportive of the potential for this technology to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people living with obesity and Type 2 diabetes.”

“We have high conviction in the Adipo leadership and technical team, the science and the high unmet market need for novel treatments for obesity and Type 2 diabetes,” said Christopher Day, CEO of Elevate Ventures. “The size of the obesity market, along with the lack of treatments that focus on increasing energy expenditure, are among the drivers for investing in Adipo.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, by 2030 there will be over 140 million people with obesity and over 50 million people with Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. Obesity is a global health crisis that affects over 40% of American adults. People who are overweight or are affected by obesity are at increased risk for many other serious diseases and health conditions including Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver and gallbladder diseases, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular diseases, sleep apnea, breathing disorders, osteoarthritis, mental illness, and some cancers. Despite multiple available treatments, most treated patients are not reaching their therapeutic goals, resulting in an eight-year reduction in life expectancy and soaring medical costs.

“While weight loss can be achieved through decreasing calorie intake and/or increasing energy expenditure, the newer therapies on the market today are focused primarily on appetite suppression to reduce a person’s daily caloric intake,” said Adipo CEO Karen Wurster. “There is a need for new products that work to increase energy expenditure without limiting calorie intake. Adipo’s technology increases energy expenditure by converting energy-storing white fat into energy-burning, metabolically beneficial brown fat.”

Research has shown a correlation between higher levels of brown fat with lower odds of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. ADPO-002 has the potential to be a complementary product to existing weight loss and diabetes drugs given its ability to increase energy expenditure and improve insulin resistance.

ADPO-002 is a first-in-class, weekly treatment to increase brown fat through localized conversion of white fat. Studies in animals have shown that when treated weekly with ADPO-002, local brown fat increases and leads to durable weight loss, improved blood glucose control and a decrease in lipids with no change in calorie intake.

As part of Adipo’s growth, the leadership team has grown by two key members. Earlier this year, Dr. Michael Clayman was named board chair of Adipo. He joins Wurster and Meng Deng, Adipo founder and president and associate professor in Purdue University’s College of Engineering, as the board of directors. Clayman is a former executive at Eli Lilly and Co. and co-founder and former CEO of Flexion Therapeutics. Keith Johns has joined the management team as chief strategy officer. Johns was most recently senior vice president of global marketing and alliance management, diabetes and obesity business unit, at Eli Lilly and Co.

The Adipo team is now raising $35 million in Series A funding to move its product to first human dose to demonstrate safety and efficacy in people. The Series A capital will enable the team to continue its efficient execution to advance ADPO-002, including good manufacturing practice, IND enabling studies, IND submission and approval, and the Phase 1 clinical development program.

Adipo is a privately held, late-stage, preclinical biopharmaceutical company developing a breakthrough approach to treat the dual epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Adipo has identified a lead asset, ADPO-002, that combines a notch inhibitor with novel nanoparticle technology. ADPO-002 is specifically designed to infiltrate and release the active ingredient inside the cellular structure of white adipose tissue, which results in mitochondrial biogenesis and the beiging of white adipose tissue. Meng Deng is the founder and president of Adipo Therapeutics. He also is an associate professor in Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Materials Engineering. To learn more about the company and its technology, please visit

Purdue Innovates is a unified network at Purdue Research Foundation to assist Purdue faculty, staff, students and alumni in either IP commercialization or startup creation. As a conduit to technology commercialization, intellectual property protection and licensing, startup creation and venture capital, Purdue Innovates serves as the front door to translate new ideas into world-changing impact.

For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact Purdue Innovates at

Elevate Ventures is the No. 1 most active VC in the Great Lakes region and top twenty in the world. Elevate invests in high-potential, cross-sector innovative companies with a minimum $500 million total addressable market at the pre-seed, seed, and Series A stages. To learn more about Elevate Ventures, visit

IU Ventures invests in and supports IU-affiliated early stage companies. Its investment programs include the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, IU Angel Network, Shoebox Fund and Innovate Indiana Fund. It further supports IU founders through the Executive in Residence Program and IU Founders and Funders Network. Student support is provided through a variety of engagements, including the new IU Venture Fellows Program.

Founded in 2009, VisionTech is a privately held company that links early stage investors to high-potential, early growth companies. Based in Indianapolis, VisionTech’s angel investing network includes more than 130 active members across Indiana and Ohio. As of December 2023, 215 VisionTech member investors have deployed more than $27.4 million in capital, investing in 71 portfolio companies from across the United States. Membership is open to accredited investors. Those interested in joining are encouraged to contact VisionTech.

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