UCB spins out neuro startup with €17M from Novo, Johnson & Johnson

Syndesi has an exclusive worldwide license from UCB to develop a series of molecules that modulate the protein SV2A, which is involved in synaptic transmission. (Rudy and Peter Skitterians)

UCB has licensed a small molecule program for cognitive disorders to Syndesi Therapeutics, which launched Thursday with a €17 million ($20.9 million) investment from the likes of V-Bio Ventures and the venture arms of Novo Nordisk and Johnson & Johnson.

Syndesi has an exclusive license from UCB to develop and commercialize a group of molecules that modulate the synaptic vesicle protein SV2A, which is involved in transmitting impulses between neurons in the brain.

The startup will look into the potential of these molecules in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other dementias and schizophrenia-linked cognitive impairment.

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"Development of these small molecules that modulate the SV2A target in a distinct manner represents an intriguing new approach for the treatment of cognitive deficits since they specifically target synaptic dysfunction, a hallmark of Alzheimer's Disease and other indications characterized by cognitive impairment,” said Jonathan Savidge, Syndesi CEO, in the statement. “Syndesi benefits both from UCB's research expertise and from an impressive syndicate of experienced investors and their respective networks."

The series A round, led by Novo Seeds and Fountain Healthcare, will support the clinical development of the lead candidate up to early proof of concept in humans.

Syndesi is based at the Centre d'Entreprises et d'Innovation in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, and has space at Johnson & Johnson’s JLINX incubator in Beerse. But the incubator is getting a makeover—launched in March 2016 as a collaboration between Janssen and Bioqube Ventures, JLINX will transition into a JLABS site, the first such site in Europe.