Biotech startup Mnemosyne snags $5.4M A round for neuropsych R&D

A fledgling biotech in Providence, Rhode Island has put together a $5.4 million A round to fund its plans to develop new treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders. Launched nearly two years ago with seed funding from the Slater Technology Fund and private investors, Mnemosyne has been focused on N-Methyl-D-Aspartate--or NMDA--receptor pharmacology.

Mnemosyne's scientific founders are pursuing a trail of evidence that suggests the NMDA receptor is the key to a range of neuropsychiatric conditions. And they're starting off with research that points to malfunctioning NMDA receptors as a prime suspect for schizophrenia. The round was led by Access BridgeGap Ventures with the Slater Technology Fund adding to its investment in the company.

"Completing the Series A financing will enable us to ramp up the pace of our discovery programs considerably," stated Kollol Pal, Ph.D., president and CEO.

Pal tells FierceBiotech that the Series A money should be enough to get the biotech to the stage where it has identified a lead small molecule for development. A Series B round can be raised to get into the clinic. And the first shot is likely to center on an NR2B potentiator, a subunit in the NMDA receptor area that its scientists--a group that includes the prominent Mark Bear, a professor of neuroscience at MIT and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator--strongly believe has great potential as a treatment for schizophrenia.

The biotech is getting into early-stage neuropsych work at a time Big Pharma companies like GSK ($GSK), AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Pfizer ($PFE) have been dramatically slashing their own discovery work in the field. But Pal says that he's had no trouble getting companies interested in their work and the potential of an NR2B potentiator.  

"They say 'Come back to us when you have an interesting compound,' " says Pal. And now that's just what he intends to do. Like a lot of start-ups, Mnemosyne is big on concept and small on staff. Three employees are at the company now, says Pal, and a CRO is collaborating on development.

- here's the press release