NeuroPhage Nets $12.4M to Tackle Alzheimer’s and Other Brain Disorders

Xconomy Boston — 

Score one for neurodegenerative disease therapies. Cambridge, MA-based NeuroPhage Pharmaceuticals said today it has closed $12.4 million in Series B financing led by Mérieux Développement, the healthcare investment arm of French firm Institut Mérieux. Irish biopharma Shire (NASDAQ: SHPGY) also participated in the round as a new investor.

This is the first round of institutional funding for NeuroPhage, which raised a $7 million Series A round from angel investors in early 2008. The quiet biotech startup says it plans to use the new money to prepare its lead drug candidate—NPT001 for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease—for Phase 1 clinical trials within the next two years.

The company’s technology is designed to prevent the buildup of amyloid plaques and to break up existing plaques, which degrade the performance of neurons. In addition to Alzheimer’s, NeuroPhage intends to address a broader class of disorders thought to be caused by protein misfolding, including Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other rare diseases. There has been a growing amount of activity in this field in the past half-year, including Pfizer’s acquisition of FoldRx Pharmaceuticals, and Roche’s strategic alliance with reMYND.

NeuroPhage was founded in 2007 by a small team of Boston-area entrepreneurs, together with Beka Solomon, a neuroscientist and expert in immunotherapy for Alzheimer’s at Tel Aviv University in Israel. The company currently has a dozen employees worldwide. Its scientific advisors include John Maraganore, CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals; Franz Hefti, chief scientific officer at Avid Radiopharmaceuticals; and Cynthia Lemere from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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