A startup company spun out of Johns Hopkins says it’s been able to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease in mice models — and with a fresh infusion of cash, the company is taking the program into human trials.
The startup, called Neuraly, was launched back in 2016 out of the labs of Ted Dawson, a professor of neurodegenerative diseases at Johns Hopkins. And now, Neuraly has scored the financial backing it needed to move into the clinic. The startup’s parent group, D&D Pharmatech, led a $36 million in a Series A round for Neuraly, and were joined by a group of Korean investors including Smilegate Investment and InterVest, among others. Interestingly, many of these investment firms also put down cash for D&D Pharmatech just months ago in the parent company’s own Series A round.
Neuraly has its hands on a brain penetrating drug called NLY01. The therapy is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, which is a class of drugs with a well-known safety profile thanks to already approved diabetes drugs on the market. In animal studies, NLY01 stalled disease progression, improved motor and cognitive functions, and extended the lifespan in mice with Parkinson’s disease.
“Currently, there aren’t any treatments that reverse, stop, or even slow neurodegeneration in diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s,” Neuraly’s CEO Seulki Lee in a statement. “The treatments that do exist — all symptomatic — provide only temporary improvement in motor and cognitive function, but even these become less effective over time. We believe that the science supports NLY01 as a potential disease-modifying therapy capable of slowing the progression of disease.”
Research supporting NLY01 was recently published in Nature Medicine. The company plans to start Phase 1 clinical trials sometime this year.
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