Biotech CEO advancing Alzheimer’s disease treatment sees thaw in “nuclear winter” of funding

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Several companies have suffered setbacks with drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease, but one biotechnology entrepreneur believes his company’s approach offers hope to those with loved ones who have the neurodegenerative disease.

The ability to learn and retain information depends on the brain’s ability to create new synapses and the beta-amyloid protein plays a critical role in that. Pittsburgh-based Cognition Therapeutics’ small molecule therapeutic selectively block the binding and pathogenic signaling of amyloid beta aggregates called oligomers.  The beta-amyloid oligomers interfere with learning and memory. Blocking their effects may halt or reverse Alzheimer’s disease.

The company raised nearly $2 million in notes in the latest tranche of a $7.5 million series B round from new and existing investors. Once it reaches its fundraising goal, the company believes it will be enough to advance its therapeutic to the clinical stage.

“We are probably one of the only biotechs in existence that has discovered a very significant and potent way to block the activity of these toxic proteins,” said CEO Hank Safferstein, in a phone interview.

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“The whole industry has become like a deer in the headlights because of the recent setbacks. Companies like us need to pick up the reins and drive innovation,” said Safferstein. “It’s been a tough nuclear winter when it comes to funding. We have raised a small but meaningful investment from angel investors,” remarked Safferstein, who is speaking at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference tomorrow. But he added that he’s beginning to see pharmaceutical companies being more receptive to innovative therapeutics.

“I think we are starting to see a return of more innovation in the biotech space.”

 

 

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Stephanie Baum

By Stephanie Baum

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for MedCityNews.com. She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She's written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.
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