MENLO PARK, CA—March 26, 2009—Neuraltus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately held pharmaceutical company developing proprietary small molecule drugs for neurodegenerative diseases, today announced the completion of $17 million in Series A financing.
Co-investing in the Series A funding are Latterell Venture Partners of San Francisco, CA, VantagePoint Venture Partners of San Bruno, CA and Adams Street Partners of Chicago, IL. Dr. James Woody of Latterell, Annette Bianchi of VantagePoint and Terry Gould of Adams Street will join the Neuraltus Board of Directors.
Neuraltus was founded in 2005 by Michael McGrath, MD, PhD, Professor of Laboratory Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Edgar Engleman MD, Professor of Medicine and Pathology at Stanford University School of Medicine and Ari Azhir, PhD.
“Neuraltus offers a strong pipeline of compounds for the treatment of serious neurological diseases for which there are few if any clinical options” said Dr. James Woody of Latterell Venture Partners.
“It is a great vote of confidence when investors with so much experience in biotechnology have chosen to devote their resources to Neuraltus,” said Ari Azhir, CEO and co-founder.
Neuraltus has a number of compounds in the pipeline, including a drug to treat ALS (Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a drug that will reduce dyskinesia (jerky involuntary movement) in patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and a drug for the treatment of Gaucher’s Disease (a Lysosomal Storage Disorder). The series A funding will enable Neuraltus to conduct and complete phase I and phase II clinical trials for each of these disorders.
“We believe Neuraltus has the potential to develop innovative drugs for these intractable diseases,” said Annette Bianchi of VantagePoint.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. As voluntary muscle action is progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to death. Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, but victims of ALS can be as young as 20 or 30.
“We think Neuraltus has discovered a way to slow or even to stop the progression of ALS,” said Dr. Michael McGrath, co-founder of Neuraltus Pharmaceuticals. “Our drug functions in a new way by attacking a novel disease target. We think it is a promising platform for the treatment of ALS as well as other neurodegenerative diseases.”
Parkinson’s disease occurs when the neurons in the brain that produce dopamine die or become impaired. Dopamine allows smooth, coordinated function of the body’s muscles and movement. Drugs that replace or simulate dopamine activity are the mainstay of Parkinson’s disease treatment regimens. However, after a short period of time dyskinesia, a major side effect of this treatment program occurs. Dyskinesia manifests as tremulous jerky movements that are often as severe as the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Currently there is no effective therapy for this dyskinesia. The first effective treatment of dyskinesia will enable Parkinson’s patients to benefit from the effectiveness of Parkinson’s therapies.
Gaucher’s Disease is the most prevalent Lysosomal Storage Disorder and results from a specific enzyme deficiency in the body, caused by a genetic mutation received from both parents. The disease is progressive, incurable and causes severe disability and death.