A £16 million Series A financing – led by Omega Funds – has been announced by the innovative neuroscience company NRG Therapeutics Ltd., for the purpose of advancing disease-modifying oral medicines for debilitating chronic neurodegenerative disorders, by enabling investigational new drugs (IND) studies.
A pre-clinical pipeline of potential first-in-class brain-penetrant small molecule inhibitors of the mitochondrial permeability pore (mPTP) are to be developed. These will act through a novel mechanism of action and be used in treatment of Parkinson’s and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease (MND).
Mitochondria are seen as the powerhouse or as batteries of cells, as they are essential for maintenance of cell health, and their failure or dysfunction has been noted to be common across many degenerative diseases. Inhibition of the mPTP has been shown, however, to protect neurons, reduce neuroinflammation, and extend survival in pre-clinical disease models.
Meanwhile, NRG’s in vitro studies have shown its INDs to protect mitochondria and increase the viability of human cells, potentially able to halt or significantly slow progression of diseases such as Parkinson’s and ALS. If these mitochondrial therapeutics were to be successful in clinical trials, they would be the first disease-modifying medicine to actually prevent or delay progression of these diseases. Currently, the treatments available only provide management of symptoms of chronic neurodegenerative disorders.
In ALS, the protein TDP-43 triggers neuroinflammation via activation of the innate immune sensor STING. This novel pathological mechanism is being targeted by NRG and was identified by the company’s collaborator, Professor Seth Masters of Melbourne, Australia’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI).
Following the Series A financing, Professor Masters joins NRG’s management team as vice president of discovery biology. He will head a sponsored team in the WEHI lab as part of a research agreement, while NRG expands UK R&D by moving its operational base to the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC), due to its location between Cambridge and London. This, according to NRG’s founder and CEO Dr Neil Miller, is “within easy reach of the academic centres of the golden triangle.”
The financing is also joined by additional new investor Brandon Capital and founding investor Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech, which is the international drug discovery and development programme begun in 2017 by Parkinson’s UK. It has been supporting NRG’s work since 2019.
Jonathon Cobin, partner at Brand Capital commented: “We are delighted to add NRG Therapeutics to our growing European portfolio […] Given Brandon Capital’s heritage in Australia, we have a unique advantage in bringing insights and opportunities to our portfolio companies through access to the world-class science in Australia and its favourable environment for clinical development.”
NRG’s board of directors now also welcomes Omega Funds’ MD Claudio Nessi and partner Francesco Draetta.
Nessi said: “With the ultimate impact to patients at the forefront of Omega’s process, we are focused on investing in transformative innovation with the potential to address devastating diseases with high unmet need.”
He continued: “We are impressed by the potential of NRG’s small molecules as orally-bioavailable and brain-penetrant treatments and look forward to working with the team to move the programmes through IND-enabling studies.”
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