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Newton firm raises $10m for calorie-loading product

Enzyme activator is for CF patients, premature infants

Alcresta cofounders Robert Gallotto (left), who is being named company president on Monday, and Alexey Margolin, the chief executive.

Alcresta cofounders Robert Gallotto (left), who is being named company president on Monday, and Alexey Margolin, the chief executive.

The nutrition market is flooded with products designed to block fat absorption in the name of weight loss, but Newton-based Alcresta Inc. plans to announce Monday that it has raised $10 million for its product that helps people load up on calories.

“It is a bit ironic,” said chief executive Alexey Margolin. “There are many more people who are dieting.”

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Alcresta is for people whose bodies are incapable of absorbing the full caloric value of food and drink, such as some cancer patients, premature infants, and people with cystic fibrosis.

On top of battling their conditions, these patients struggle to maintain healthy body weights. Many drink high-calorie shakes to no avail.

“They’re drinking these products, but the problem is they’re not getting the full benefit,” said Alcresta cofounder Robert Gallotto, who is being named company president as part of Monday’s announcement.

Alcresta’s solution is a disposable stick that, when stirred in a nutritional drink, activates an enzyme that helps the body digest good fats, specifically long-chain polyunsaturated fats like omega 3. The stick does not alter flavors, Gallotto said, and the company expects to make it commercially available next year.

The series B funding brings Alcresta’s total to $20 million since it was founded last year. Lead investors include Third Rock Ventures of Boston, the venture capital firm Frazier Healthcare of Seattle, and New York-based Bessemer Venture Partners, which has an office in Cambridge.

Margolin and Gallotto, veteran entrepreneurs, are running another Newton start-up called Allena Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a drug to treat hyperoxaluria, a condition that can lead to kidney stones and renal disease. The two companies are separate entities but share resources and funding streams.

Allena raised $15 million in series A funding in 2011, led by Third Rock, Frazier, and Bessemer.

Before Alcresta and Allena, Margolin and Gallotto led Alnara Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge and spent two years working on a digestive enzyme supplement before selling the company to Eli Lilly and Co. in 2010.

The deal that could be worth as much as $380 million, depending on the supplement’s future performance.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
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