The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) has provided funding to inflammatory disease biotech Inflazome. The funding will support research intended to improve the chances that Inflazome will succeed in the clinic.
Inflazome is developing small molecules that target NLRP3 to stop unwanted inflammation. NLRP3 is an innate immune signalling receptor involved in a process that protects against pathogens. But in some people these protective mechanisms spring into life in the absence of pathogens, leading to harmful inflammation that may contribute to a range of diseases, including Parkinson’s.
MJFF supported Inflazome’s early research into Parkinson’s through a grant that led to the publication of mouse data linking a NLRP3 drug to reduced brain neuron loss and higher levels of dopamine.
Now, Inflazome has secured funding to expand its R&D efforts. The latest MJFF grant will support work on a NLRP3-specific positron emission tomography tracer. By developing the tracer, Inflazome hopes to show its drug is binding to target inflammasomes in the brain, thereby increasing confidence that the molecule works as hoped. Inflazome envisages data generated by the tracer informing decisions about the doses tested in the clinic.
Jamie Eberling, director of research programs at MJFF, said the foundation was investing in the research to realize the “significant potential impact on drug development” and aid efforts to “evaluate new treatments that could alter the course of the disease.”
The support of MJFF, which has committed more than $1 million to the project, comes at a time when Inflazome is gearing up to start testing drugs in humans. Inflazome raised a €40 million ($45 million) series B round late last year to support its move into the clinic. Forbion led the round with support from backers including Novartis Venture Fund.
The series B established Inflazome at the forefront of efforts to drug the inflammasome, the complex behind the detection of pathogens. Inflazome and its rivals, such as NodThera, think targeting the complex will lead to improved outcomes in inflammation-related diseases including Parkinson’s.