Startups, BioPharma

Five of Biotech Showcase’s most interesting startups

The startups highlighted stood out from the pack of some 300 life sciences companies presenting at this week’s Biotech Showcase.

biotech showcase

Presenting at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference may confer some level of credibility to a company – but several worthy startups are showcased each year at the neighboring Biotech Showcase.

Some 300 biotechnology companies – public and private – present at the Biotech Showcase. This list is by no means comprehensive – it’s simply a guide to some of the more compelling startups that presented this week. All of the selections below are private.

Interestingly, none of these startups are located in the usual geographical suspects: Boston, San Francisco and San Diego.

Aegle Therapeutics Corp.

This regenerative medicine startup is developing microvesicles – that is, fragments of plasma membrane material – to treat burns, wounds, orthopedic injuries and cardiovascular disease. Microvesicles are secreted by adult human stem cells, and used  as the paracrine wound healing mediators of stem cells

Formed in 2013, Miami-based Aegle has raised more than $15 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. All of Aegle’s drug candidates are still in preclinical development, though the two that are furthest along are for pressure sores and burns. It plans to file its first INDs for these two indications this year.

Cognition Therapeutics

Pittsburgh-based Cognition Therapeutics is developing a first-in-class Alzheimer’s small molecule drug that ostensibly halts progression of the disease – and improves its symptoms. Its drug is meant to halt amyloid beta buildups in the brain, by simply taking their place at the synapse – ostensibly preventing memory loss.

The company, launched in 2007, in Phase 1a trials for Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also working on a preclinical program for Parkinson’s disease. The company’s raised $22 million in equity and $3 million in grant funding.

IGXBio

Kansas-based DNA vaccine startup IGXBio’s Genepro  platform is aimed at targeting infectious disease – particularly HIV. Its immunotherapy approach manages to yield high levels of gene expression and non-infectious HIV production, spurring a robust antibody and cellular immune response in animal models – including primates, the startup says.

IGXBio has raised more than $25 million since its 2013 launch. It’s still preclinical, but has an open IND for a Phase 1/2a clinical trial for HIV.

Lung Therapeutics

The Austin startup is developing drugs to treat three indications: Pleural effusion (fluid buildup in the lungs), acute lung injury and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The company has received orphan designation for its lead compound, LTI-01, which works as a single chain urokinase plasminogen activator.

Lung Therapeutics has raised around $2.5 million in a Series A round, but more than $20 million in NIH funding since its 2013 launch. It is furthest along in development for a pleural effusion drug, and slated to enter Phase 1a/b clinical trials soon.

NeurOp 

Atlanta-based NeurOp is developing drugs to treat diseases of the mind and brain – specifically, depression, pain and aneurism. It also has preclinical programs in schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

NeurOp’s drugs are meant to serve as safe NMDA receptor blockers – an interesting approach, since these drugs historically have had poor side effect profile. NeurOp’s next-gen NMDA receptor antagonists are being designed to have an improved safety profile.

The company has raised around $13.5 million since its founding in 2002. It’s partnered out with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.