Neurimmune, TVM set up ALS biotech, secure support of Eli Lilly unit for advance toward clinical proof of concept

An MRI scan consistent with the clinical diagnosis of ALS.

Neurimmune and TVM Capital Life Science have partnered to create and fund a single-asset biotech focused on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The biotech, AL-S Pharma, plans to work with Eli Lilly unit Chorus to take a human monoclonal antibody targeting misfolded SOD1 to proof of concept.

Zurich, Switzerland-based Neurimmune discovered and validated the mAb—AP-101—using the same reverse translational medicine platform that unearthed Biogen’s Alzheimer’s hopeful aducanumab. Neurimmune has partnered four programs with Biogen in total, but has chosen a different path for the latest fruit of its discovery and development platform, spinning the asset out to create AL-S and bringing collaborators on board to support its advance.

TVM and Neurimmune have put up an undisclosed amount of money to fully fund the advance of AP-101 up to the generation of clinical proof-of-concept data. And have secured the option to work with autonomous Lilly unit Chorus to plot the best path forward for the asset. Chorus is a long-running offshoot of Lilly that works with external collaborators to hustle programs to proof of concept as cost-effectively as possible.

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“Working as a limited partner with TVM Capital Life Science is an important part of our risk-sharing strategy to complement the molecules we’re evaluating in our labs with the best discoveries from outside the company,” Christer Nordstedt, Lilly's vice president of neuroscience research and clinical development, said in a statement.

Chorus and TVM teamed up in 2012 to finance and support biotechs, since when they have backed companies including Pfizer-spinout Ixchelsis, Lilly-offshoot GLWL Research and a clutch of other startups. The idea is typically to create a lean biotech focused solely on getting to clinical proof of concept, an approach that mirrors the operating model of investment group Medicxi.

For AL-S the first goal is to get into the clinic, something it expects to achieve in 2018. Neurimmune COO Michael Salzmann will oversee the work as CEO of AL-S.

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