Biotech company EnClear Therapies has announced $10 million in financing to help advance its proprietary platform for stopping the progression of neurodegenerative disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The investments comes from a Series A financing round, which is part of an early development stage for start-up companies that are raising capital. The round was led by 20/20 HealthCare Partners (HCP), a global investment company, and joined by PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, Amgen Ventures, Global Health Sciences Fund (Quark Venture and GF Securities), Presight Capital, and Dolby Family Ventures.
“We are thrilled to have a strong syndicate committed to our team and platform technology, enabling EnClear to move our therapeutic system to our first-in-human clinical trial in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as expand our platform into new applications and strategic partnerships,” Anthony DePasqua, EnClear Therapies’ co-founder and CEO, said in a press release.
“Our differentiated technology has the potential to transform not only the treatment of this devastating disease, but also many other conditions related to the central nervous system,” he added.
EnClear’s lead product filters out toxic proteins that build up in the brain and spinal cord of people with neurodegenerative disorders.
In ALS, the technology is specifically meant to treat patients who have mutations in the C9orf72 gene, which comprises roughly 25 to 40% of familial ALS cases and 7% of sporadic ones. Defects in this gene are the mutations most commonly associated with ALS.
When functioning normally, the C9orf72 gene gives instructions for the production of a protein in nerve cells and movement-controlling motor neurons. Scientists believe the gene plays a big role in nerve cells’ ability to communicate with each other.
In earlier studies, EnClear discovered that C9orf72 gene mutations led to the buildup of a flawed protein that prevented cells from functioning normally and promoted nerve cell death. With the goal of impeding or halting disease progression, EnClear’s platform is designed to remove these toxic proteins from patients’ cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
“The founders of EnClear are focused on producing a technology that could revolutionize the field by allowing fast diagnosis, delivery of any drug directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, and the development of new CNS-focused therapeutics,” said Jason Camm, a new company board member and the managing director and chief medical officer at Thiel Capital.
Another new board member, Hillel Bachrach, managing partner at 20/20 HCP, said EnClear’s technology could fundamentally alter how neurodegenerative diseases are treated, ultimately enhancing patients’ lives.
“20/20 HCP was established to invest in life sciences companies with the potential to develop transformative new approaches for the treatment of disease,” Bachrach said.
In addition to treating ALS, EnClear seeks to stop the progression of progressive supranuclear palsy, or PSP. Like ALS, PSP is characterized by the buildup of toxic proteins in the brain.
“We believe that EnClear’s unique, device-based approach to accessing and treating the [central nervous system] has the potential for strategic partnerships across both the bio and medtech industries,” said Karimah Es Sabar, CEO and partner, Quark Venture.
Zafrira Avnur, PhD, Quark’s chief scientific officer, also has been newly appointed to EnClear’s board.
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