Tuesday, June 14, 2022
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MindImmune Therapeutics Inc., a Rhode Island-based drug discovery company, says it is “pioneering a new approach to treating Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.” It announced that it had closed a Series A financing of $12.4 million.
Investors participating in the round include Dolby Family Ventures, Pfizer Ventures, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), Trend Venture, RightHill Ventures (a subsidiary of the Slater Technology Fund) and several private investors. Use of proceeds from the financing will help MindImmune advance its flagship preclinical development program, targeting Alzheimer’s disease as a primary indication.
In the United States, an estimated 5.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Statisticians predict that over the next 30 years, 13.8 million people could live with Alzheimer’s disease if researchers fail to prevent or find a cure for the disease.
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MindImmune was founded by co-founders Stevin Zorn, Ph.D, Frank Menniti, Ph.D., and Robert Nelson, Ph.D., who originally met as scientific collaborators in research on the central nervous system (CNS) at Pfizer. After Pfizer, Drs. Zorn and Nelson joined H. Lundbeck AS, a leading CNS-focused pharmaceutical company, where they created one of the first pharmaceutical research groups targeting neuroinflammation. Following his tenure at Pfizer, Dr. Menniti was a co-founder of Mnemosyne Pharmaceuticals (later renamed Cadent Therapeutics), which was acquired by Novartis to further develop its novel NMDA receptor modulators.
MindImmune claims in its announcement that it has “made a fundamental discovery that may be linked to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease”.
According to the company, it has discovered that cells of the peripheral immune system enter and cause damage to neurons with Alzheimer’s disease. MindImmune aims to develop a new therapeutic antibody to act in the peripheral system to prevent immune cells from causing neural damage, thereby reducing cognitive symptoms and slowing the progression of this devastating disease. The company is continuing its research on the premise that this neuro-inflammatory process may be the cause of central nervous system (CNS) damage in a wider range of neurodegenerative diseases.
“We are honored to have the support of existing and new investors, many of whom are recognized for their deep industry expertise in the field of neurodegenerative diseases,” said Stevin Zorn, President and CEO of MindImmune. “With the resources provided, we are excited to accelerate our preclinical R&D activities, aimed at advancing our lead program to the IND candidate stage.”
According to Tracy Saxton, Ph.D., Managing Director of Dolby Family Ventures, “MindImmune has distinguished itself by pioneering a potentially fundamental new approach to modulating the innate immune response in Alzheimer’s disease. We are pleased to support this outstanding group of founding scientists to advance our understanding of the role of the innate immune system in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and to nominate a clinical candidate aimed directly at blocking the damage caused by these peripheral immune cells. .
As part of this funding, the ADDF is supporting research into a new way to measure immune cell recruitment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This assay is designed to quantify the amount of peripheral immune cells recruited to the CNS in Alzheimer’s disease and potentially serve as a diagnostic and/or biomarker of neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease patients, helping the R&D community in a broad sense as well as the internal program of MindImmune.
Based at the University of Rhode Island, MindImmune enjoys an affiliation with the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience, Kingston, RI.