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Brandon Capital Invests in Neuroscience Company NRG Therapeutics

  • Brandon Capital announces its participation in NRG Therapeutics’ £16 million (AUD$29m) Series A alongside Omega Funds
  • NRG is developing inhibitors of a first-in-class target as a potential disease-modifying treatment for Parkinson's and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease (MND) towards the clinic
  • The financing enables UK-headquartered NRG Therapeutics to expand its research team in Australia led by Prof Seth Masters under an agreement with WEHI (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research)
  • Jonathan Tobin, Partner at Brandon Capital, joins the NRG board; and Prof Masters joins the management team as VP Discovery Biology

Melbourne, Australia and London UK, 9 November 2022 – Brandon Capital, Australasia’s leading life science venture capital firm, is pleased to announce its investment into neuroscience company NRG Therapeutics as part of its £16m (AUD$29m) series A financing.

Brandon Capital participated alongside Omega Funds, which led the round, as well as NRG’s founding investor, Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech. This is Brandon’s second investment in the UK since opening its London office in 2021, following its recently announced  investment in Pheon Therapeutics.

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.

NRG is targeting a novel pathological mechanism in ALS that was identified by Professor Seth Masters, Ph.D., at Australia’s WEHI (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research), a Brandon BioCatalyst member institute. Specifically, NRG’s approach is based on inhibiting a novel protein within the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) in neurons, which has been shown to be neuroprotective in several preclinical models of Parkinson’s and ALS. It was Professor Masters who showed that the mPTP is involved in the pathology of ALS1. NRG has an ongoing Research Collaboration Agreement with WEHI to further drug discovery based on these pioneering studies funded by a Drug Development grant awarded to WEHI from FightMND, under which NRG is the Industrial Partner.

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 an expanded research agreement between NRG and WEHI.

Jonathan Tobin, Partner at 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.”

Professor Seth Masters, VP of Discovery Biology at NRG Therapeutics and Laboratory Head, Inflammation Division at WEHI, said: “I am excited to be joining the NRG team alongside leading my group at WEHI. We were the first to identify a novel mechanism by which neuroinflammation is triggered in TDP-43 proteinopathies. Our assessment of cell lines, a mutant TDP-43 model, and human ALS-affected spinal cord samples provides support for a model where TDP-43 liberates mtDNA into the cytoplasm via the mPTP to activate cGAS/STING signaling. I look forward to exploring with NRG whether targeting this pathway with its novel mPTP inhibitors can improve the symptoms of neuronal decline in patients with disease involving TDP-43 proteinopathy, such as ALS.”

NRG Therapeutics’ co-founder and CEO Dr Neil Miller said, “We are delighted to welcome Omega Funds and Brandon Capital as new investors and thank 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 neurological diseases.”

Parkinson’s affects ~10 million individuals worldwide and 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.

  1. Yu et al., 2020, Cell 183, 636–649 October 29, 2020 - TDP-43 Triggers Mitochondrial DNA Release via mPTP to Activate cGAS/STING in ALS