NRG Therapeutics Announces £16 million Series A to Advance Mitochondrial Therapeutics for Parkinson’s and ALS
· £16 million Series A led by Omega Funds, to advance disease-modifying oral medicines for debilitating chronic neurodegenerative disorders through IND-enabling studies
· Developing a pipeline of potential first-in-class brain-penetrant small molecule inhibitors of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore, which act through a novel mechanism of action, as treatments for Parkinson's and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
· Professor Seth Masters who identified a novel pathological mechanism in ALS targeted by NRG’s pipeline, joins management team as VP of Discovery Biology
Stevenage, UK, 9 November 2022 – NRG Therapeutics, Ltd., an innovative neuroscience company targeting mitochondrial dysfunction, today announced the closing of a £16 million Series A financing, led by Omega Funds and joined by additional new investor Brandon Capital and founding investor the Parkinson's Virtual Biotech. In connection with the financing, Omega Funds Managing Director Claudio Nessi and Partner Francesco Draetta, as well as Brandon Capital Partner Jonathan Tobin, have joined the company’s Board of Directors.
NRG is applying breakthrough science in the field of mitochondrial biology to develop disease-modifying therapeutics to slow or halt the progression of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and ALS (also known as motor neurone disease or MND). The Series A proceeds will be used to advance the company’s potential first-in-class brain-penetrant small molecules through IND-enabling studies.
The company’s pre-clinical pipeline includes small molecule assets which inhibit the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) through a novel mechanism of action. Mitochondria are the powerhouses or batteries of cells and therefore are essential for maintaining cell health. There is now a substantial body of evidence demonstrating mitochondrial failure or dysfunction is common across many degenerative diseases. Inhibition of the mPTP has been shown to protect neurons, reduce neuroinflammation, and extend survival in pre-clinical disease models.
In vitro studies have demonstrated NRG’s investigational new drugs protect mitochondria and increase the viability of human cells, and therefore have the potential to halt or significantly slow the progression of disease in individuals with Parkinson’s or ALS. If successful in clinical trials, NRG’s therapeutics would be the first disease-modifying medicine to prevent or delay disease progression for people with Parkinson’s, where current treatments only provide management of disease symptoms.
NRG is targeting a novel pathological mechanism in ALS, through which the protein TDP-43 triggers neuroinflammation via activation of the innate immune sensor STING, that was identified by its collaborator Professor Seth Masters, at Australia’s WEHI (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research). Following the financing, Professor Masters has joined the NRG management team as VP of Discovery Biology. His laboratory at WEHI in Melbourne, Australia, will also include a sponsored team as part of a research agreement between NRG and WEHI. In addition, NRG has also expanded its UK R&D and operational base with a recent move to the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC).
Claudio Nessi, Managing Director, Omega Funds said, “With the ultimate impact to patients at the forefront of Omega’s process, we are focused on investing in transformative innovation with the potential to address devastating diseases with high unmet need. While drug development in neurological diseases has been challenging historically, emerging insights into disease drivers has led to somewhat of a resurgence. This is all the more important given the increasing prevalence and life-limiting effects of these debilitating diseases, as well as their immense healthcare cost burden.
“We are impressed by the potential of NRG’s small molecules as orally-bioavailable and brain-penetrant treatments and look forward to working with the team to move the programs through IND-enabling studies. If successful, the company’s mitochondrial therapeutics could transform the lives of patients suffering from Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.”
Jonathan Tobin, Partner, Brandon Capital said, “We are delighted to add NRG Therapeutics to our growing European portfolio. Brandon Capital was attracted to the company by its first-in-class mechanism that could make a major difference to patients with devastating neurodegenerative diseases, combined with the seasoned management team that Brandon has backed previously.
“Given Brandon Capital’s heritage in Australia we have a unique advantage in bringing insights and opportunities to our portfolio companies through access to the world-class science in Australia and its favorable environment for clinical development. We are delighted to see the collaboration between NRG and WEHI, with Professor Seth Masters further strengthening the NRG team.”
NRG Therapeutics’ co-founder and CEO Dr Neil Miller said, “We are excited to welcome Omega Funds and Brandon Capital as new investors and thank the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech for its continued support. We look forward to working with them, and our expanding team and R&D partners to bring new medicines and hope to the growing number of people worldwide living with debilitating neurodegenerative disorders.”
The Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech is the international drug discovery and development programme founded in 2017 by Parkinson’s UK, the largest European charitable funder of Parkinson’s research. Since 2019, the Virtual Biotech has supported NRG’s work as it looks to accelerate new treatments for Parkinson’s in years and not decades.
Parkinson’s affects ~10 million individuals worldwide and occurs as a result of the loss of specific dopamine-producing cells in the brain that control muscle movement. It is the fastest-growing neurological disorder in the world, presenting a major healthcare challenge for society. ALS is a rare fatal neurodegenerative disorder that typically leads to death within 3-5 years of diagnosis. The marketed disease-modifying treatments for ALS provide an extension in survival of approximately 3-6 months. Given this extension in life is modest and patients are hugely debilitated in the terminal phase disease, an improved disease-modifying medicine is desperately needed.
Mills and Reeve advised NRG Therapeutics in the transaction.
- Sue Charles