QurAlis secures $88M to advance ALS therapies
Funding will help advance lead candidates, QRL-101, QRL-201
QurAlis has secured $88 million to advance the clinical development of QRL-101 and QRL-201, its lead candidates for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The new series B financing, a second round of funding after the company met certain research milestones, brings the total investment to $143.5 million.
The proceeds will also support research for candidates in QurAlis’ pipeline targeting components of ALS and the related condition of frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
“This financing round recognizes our scientific track record and will help us advance the clinical development of our two lead programs in ALS and robust pipeline through near-term value-creating milestones,” Kasper Roet, PhD, QurAlis’ founder and CEO, said in a company press release. “We are breaking through the barriers of science in our quest to bring much-needed precision therapies to patients.”
In ALS, progressive muscle weakness is caused by the loss of motor neurons, the nerve cells that transmit impulses from the brain to muscles to control voluntary movements. In about half of cases, motor neuron damage is due to electrical signals firing excessively, referred to as hyperexcitability.
QRL-101, also named QRA-244, is an oral medication designed to selectively target and activate a protein channel called Kv7.2/7.3 to lower motor neurons’ hyperexcitability and improve their survival.
Studies underway of Quralis’ candidate therapies
A first-in-human Phase 1 trial (NCT05667779) is evaluating QRL-101’s safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics — how the drug moves into, through, and out of the body. The study, which is enrolling up to 40 healthy volunteers, ages 18-70, at a single center in the Netherlands, will assess increasing doses of QRL-101 against a placebo.
QRL-201, the other lead compound, is a first-in-class experimental therapy designed to restore the production of STMN2, a protein found at lower than normal levels in almost all ALS patients. Under normal circumstances, STMN2 is produced at high levels in motor neurons for nerve cell growth and repair.
Regulators in Canada recently approved QurAlis’ request to launch a Phase 1 clinical trial called ANQUR (NCT05633459) to investigate QRL-201’s safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics in up to 64 ALS patients, ages 18-80. Participants will be randomly assigned different doses of the therapy or a placebo, given by injection into the spinal canal.
Recruitment has begun in Montréal, with sites in the U.S. and several European countries expected to open soon.
“This financing reflects significant investor confidence in the science behind QurAlis’ next-generation precision medicines, world-class team, and commitment to bringing new therapies to patients suffering from ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases,” said Anne Whitaker, chair of QurAlis’ board of directors.
The financing effort was led by EQT Life Sciences, with investments from Droia Ventures, LSP Dementia Fund, and Sanofi Ventures, and participation from the ALS Investment Fund.
Existing investors include the Dementia Discovery Fund, the LS Polaris Innovation Fund, Mission BioCapital, INKEF Capital, MP Healthcare Venture Management, Amgen Ventures, Dolby Family Ventures, Mitsui Global Investment, Mission Bay Capital, and Sanford Biosciences.
“QurAlis stands out as a leader in the field of neurodegenerative diseases with its next-generation precision medicines and genetically validated targets,” said Philip Scheltens, MD, PhD, head of EQT Life Sciences’ LSP Dementia Fund. “We are extremely excited to join this distinguished group of investors supporting this world-class team to advance what we believe could become life-changing treatments for patients and their families.”
Cillian King, PhD, managing director at EQT Life Sciences, and Laia Crespo, PhD, partner at Sanofi Ventures, will join the QurAlis board of directors as part of the series B financing agreement.
“We are fortunate to be funded by this outstanding group of investors who share our commitment to patients with neurodegenerative diseases and our vision to halt disease progression and significantly improve outcomes,” Roet said.