Drug developer advancing Phase 2 drug for Lou Gehrig’s disease raises $15M

Company name: Knopp Biosciences

Industry: Biotechnology

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Product: Its lead product is dexpramipexole for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease and is being developed with Biogen. It is designed to protect stressed neurons and other cell types from dying, according to its website. It has finished two Phase 2 clinical studies and has an ongoing one in process. Data from the studies is expected to be available in the fourth quarter this year or early 2013, according to Biogen’s third quarter earnings report. Biogen has the rights to commercialize dexpramipexole. If the drug meets all of the agreed milestones, Knopp stands to gain an additional $255 million. It is also developingnext-generation modulators of mitochondrial bioenergetics for conditions for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and heart failure.


Money raised: $14.9 million

How it will be used:  To accelerate discovery of next-generation mitochondrial mediators for neurodegenerative disorders and to support near-term clinical development of a combination treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Investors: Biogen, Saturn Capital and Saturn Partners II; Kramer Capital Partners; LaunchCyte and Innovation Works

Management team: Michael Bozik, the CEO, previously served as vice president of global research and development for Bayer Healthcare’s  Consumer Care division. He has also worked in a number of roles at Bristol-Myers Squibb, including vice president of neuroscience clinical development. Thomas Petzinger Jr., executive vice president for business development, is a founder of Launchcyte, a life sciences incubator that co-founded Knopp. He also serves as a director of other LaunchCyte companies, such as Immunetrics Inc., Crystalplex Corp., Reaction Biology and Celsense Inc.  Evan Ingersoll, senior vice president for development and project management, previously was group director of research and development operations at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Market: About 30,000 people in the US are estimated to be affected by ALS. It has a life expectancy of two to five years after diagnosis.

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