Venture

Serono spinout grabs a $31M round for a pair of proof-of-concept Parkinson’s trials

Nearly 5 years ago, Prexton Therapeutics was the first new biotech to be spun out of the wreckage left behind after Merck KGaA decided to shutter its big Serono operations in Geneva and retrench back in Darmstadt. Today, it’s taking what it learned in a Phase I study of a new Parkinson’s drug and applying it in a pair of mid-stage studies that will put its theories on a new pathway to the test, fueled by a $31 million Series B.

CEO Francois Conquet has spent his entire career focused on the role of glutamate receptors for CNS diseases. He founded Addex back in 2002 and ran it for three years, leaving it with an mGluR5 program now poised to to into a late-stage study for Parkinson’s. And now he’s focused in mGluR4 as an alternative approach to using dopamine to control the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Investigators completed a Phase I safety program, testing doses well above what produced positive results in non-human primates.

Forbion’s Marco Boorsma, who’s joining the board, says Prexton is following a transAtlantic Phase II strategy. The first trial, he tells me, will be in Europe with Parkinson’s symptoms as the primary endpoint. The second Phase II trial will be in the US with levodopa-induced dyskinesia as the primary endpoint.

“So idea is to treat different stages of PD and open regulatory files in Europe (EMA) and US (FDA),” he adds in an email.

“We have developed a strong package of preclinical and phase I clinical data with Foliglurax,” says Conquet. “We are now keen to begin our phase II efficacy trials and continue the development of Foliglurax as a potential new therapeutic for Parkinson’s disease.”

Prexton beefed up its syndicate for the Series B. Forbion and Seroba Life Sciences stepped in to co-lead the financing round, which includes current investors Merck Ventures, Ysios Capital and Sunstone Capital. Alan O’Connell from Seroba will also join the board of Prexton.


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