NeuroPhage adds $10M to its Series D to bring brain plaque-clearing Alzheimer’s drug to clinic

Cambridge-based NeuroPhage is developing, well, a better way to clear the trash. It’s chasing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other aging-related degenerative diseases with a technology that breaks up disease-causing plaques in the brain. The company just tacked on another $10 million to its existing Series D private equity financing, bringing that total round to $27 million. To date, NeuroPhage has […]

Cambridge-based NeuroPhage is developing, well, a better way to clear the trash. It’s chasing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other aging-related degenerative diseases with a technology that breaks up disease-causing plaques in the brain.

The company just tacked on another $10 million to its existing Series D private equity financing, bringing that total round to $27 million. To date, NeuroPhage has raised some $61.5 million, with the dollars coming largely from “very high net individuals.”

The money’s slated to advance NPT088, NeuroPhage’s lead candidate, into clinical studies for Alzheimer’s by the end of this year. The company plans to enroll 50 patients into the phase 1 trial that shows not proof of concept, but proof of activity. While the candidate’s performed well preclinically, this will be the real test of the NeuroPhage platform.

CEO Jonathon Solomon had a garbage analogy to explain the biochemistry of aging-related disease: The body’s a manufacturing plant of proteins – necessary but sticky things that aggregate if they aren’t cleared up. Protein misfolding leads to the longterm aggregation of these plaques – causing diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and others.

“As we age, our garbage removal system becomes less efficacious,” Solomon said.

Its GAIM – general amyloid interaction motif – can simultaneously target a wide array of misfolded proteins associated with aging-related disease. The phage-based treatment works much as a virus invades a cell – changing the structure of the misfolded protein with a hijacking.

The work’s been quite effective in animal models – mice treated with the GAIM technology have seen a dramatic reduction in pathology, cognitive improvement and restoration of memory loss. This isn’t a silver bullet – Solomon says there’s no way to recover memories lost from cells that have already died, but the intervention could help restore brain plasticity and potentially help rehabilitate someone with a serious degenerative disorder.

“If it works – and we prove this mechanism works – we’ll explore this with many other indications. Like Parkinson’s disease, and some orphan indications,” Solomon said.

Recent data from Biogen Idec – showing improvements in patients once beta amyloid has reduced in the brain – has bolstered NeuroPhage’s confidence in its own product, Solomon said.