NeuroPhage adds a $17M round to back Alzheimer's drug program

Cambridge, MA-based NeuroPhage Pharmaceuticals has banked a $17 million venture round designed to fuel its early-stage work on a full slate of neurodegenerative disease targets like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The little biotech is pushing its lead drug, NPT088, toward clinical trials next year which can assess its impact on misfolded proteins at play in the creation of amyloid β and tau, which are commonly found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's.

The team at NeuroPhage is tackling targets that have defied some of the best financed efforts in Big Pharma. Their approach, say company executives, holds the promise of ridding two key culprits in the development of Alzheimer's as well as preventing the deposits from forming in the first place. And they have a long, long way to go before convincing data can be gathered.

The company will stay focused on preclinical work up until the fourth quarter of next year, CEO Jonathan Solomon tells FierceBiotech. At that point investigators can go into Phase I for Alzheimer's, using some newly approved imaging agents to detect the lead drug's effect on amyloid β and tau to establish proof of mechanism of the drug.

"A Phase I success would open up various possibilities," he adds, including a possible Phase II on Parkinson's disease and a possible partnership on Alzheimer's as well as new work on Huntington's.

The 18-member team at NeuroPhage faces some big challenges, as Solomon is quick to concede. While amyloid β and tau are believed to play a role in the development of the disease, there's no consensus that the proteins are responsible for Alzheimer's. On the other hand, the biotech has a shot at developing a therapy with an impact on multiple targets, something unusual in the field.

With the new $17 million round, NeuroPhage has brought its total haul to date to $52 million, says Solomon. But he isn't identifying the private investors backing the company on this round. Three years ago two new investors, MerieuxDeveloppement and Shire, both contributed to the Series B.

The company has been working on a platform which was hatched in the lab of Professor Beka Solomon, chair for Biotechnology of Neurodegenerative Diseases at Tel Aviv University. And the biotech has a small team in place near the university. 

- here's the press release