General Funding - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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Amplimmune, Inc, Rockville, MD

A series A VC-backed (InterWest and Wellcome Trust) company spun out of Johns Hopkins University that is developing a novel biological molecule that redirects immune responses in MS. Amplimmune is collaborating with Dr. Steven Miller (Northwestern University) to conduct preclinical studies to demonstrate the efficacy of AMP-110 in animal models of MS. Amplimmune is currently engaged in raising its Series B financing.

Project Summary: Development of recombinant B7-H4-lg fusion protein as a therapeutic treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $500,000 to support the development of an immune therapy called AMP-110, which would target the inflammatory response in MS. AMP-110 has already shown efficacy in other autoimmune diseases.

Apitope International, Bristol, United Kingdom

A series B, VC-backed (LRM and Vesalius Biocapital) company developing a tolerizing therapy, ATX-MS-1467, for MS. Subsequent to Fast Forward’s investment, the company entered into a $200 million licensing and development agreement with Merck Serono to underwrite additional development of the ATX-MS-1467 program.

Project Summary: The use of peptide antigens for prevention and treatment of autoimmune disease.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $1 million to support the design and conduct of a Phase IIb proof of concept trial for the company’s lead product ATX-MS-1467 in relapsing remitting MS.

Axxam SpA, Milan, Italy

A privately held company spun out of Bayer AG. Axxam is conducting a discovery program to identify lead compounds that target specific molecules on immune cells in MS and Type 1 diabetes. Fast Forward is co-funding the program with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Project Summary: Innovative immunosuppressant for potential prevention of type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.

Fast Forward Project Funding Year 1: $250,000 joint funding with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to support use of Kv1.3, a channel inhibitor, as a small molecule immune therapy for treatment in MS. Company is ready to complete validation in an animal model and move it into a clinic setting.

Fast Forward Project Funding Year 2: $220,000 joint funding with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation 

Canbex Therapeutics, London, United Kingdom

A privately held company spun out of University of London. Canbex is developing an oral therapy that may treat the muscle spasticity that affects people with MS.

Project Summary: Development of a new treatment for spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.

Fast Forward Project Funding: £242,500 in funding support for studies that will accelerate the testing of VSN16R, a small molecule compound that has shown good evidence of anti-spastic effects in laboratory models of MS and spasticity.  

Five Prime Therapeutics, San Francisco, CA

A privately held venture capital backed company that is developing a range of therapies for human diseases.

Project Summary: Development of a pre-clinical testing of a biological molecule for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $1,000,000 to fund the advancement of a biologic targeting specific cells of the innate immune system. 

Provid Pharmaceuticals, Monmouth Junction, NJ

A privately held medicinal chemistry company developing a small molecule, PV-267, that disrupts abnormal functioning of the immune system in MS. Provid is collaborating with Dr. Thomas Forsthuber (University of Texas – San Antonio) to conduct preclinical validation studies with PV-267.

Project Summary: MHC Class II inhibitors for multiple sclerosis

Fast Forward Project Funding Year 1: $50,000 to support R&D costs for their MS program, PV-267, which is expected to lead to the generation of small molecules that interact with immune cells and disrupt antigens from attacking the brain.

Fast Forward Project Funding Year 2: $260,000 to enhance immunology and safety data to support further development of PV-267. 

Athersys, Cleveland, OH

A publically traded biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of therapeutic product candidates. The Company is developing an adult stem cell platform for the treatment of MS, including progressive forms of the disease. Athersys is collaborating on this project with Robert H. Miller, PhD, Vice President for Research at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Project Summary: Development and testing of Multistem® allogeneic stem cell product for treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $640,000 to fund the advancement of this program to the clinical development stage. 

Lineagen, Salt Lake City, UT

A privately held commercial diagnostics business with leading programs in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), multiple sclerosis (MS), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Lineagen is developing gene and biomarker based clinical assays for MS.

Project Summary: Development and validation of clinical biomarker for use in blood-based tests to speed the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $622,000 to establish and validate a broad array of biomarkers for MS, including genes associated with predisposition for the disease, and blood-based markers that have diagnostic and prognostic potential. This project is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Utah.  

Concert Pharmaceuticals, Lexington, MA

A clinical stage biotechnology company focused on applying the company’s DCE Platform™ (deuterated chemical entity platform) to create novel and differentiated small molecule drugs. Concert is advancing a therapy for spasticity and pain in MS.

Project Summary: Development of C-21191 for treatment of spasticity and neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $750,000 to help advance development of its C-21191 agent toward clinical trials in people with MS. 

DioGenix, Gaithersburg, MD

A molecular diagnostics company intent on commercializing novel molecular tests for neurological diseases where the current standard of care lacks diagnostic certainty. The company’s lead program is focused on improving the ability of neurologists to diagnose and treat patients that have, or are suspected of having, Multiple Sclerosis.

Project Summary: Development of a blood-based diagnostic test for multiple sclerosis.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $479,000 to accelerate the progress of this program which, if successful, will lead to a simple blood test that can aid physicians in the clinical diagnosis and monitoring of MS. 

Ezose Sciences Inc., Pine Brook, NJ

A glycomics-focused company that leverages its unique, high-throughput glycan analysis technology to discover and develop new biomarkers and therapeutic targets, and provide glycoform analytical service to support biologic and biosimilar drug development. Ezose’s proprietary GlycanMap® technology platform brings a new dimension to biomarker discovery by enabling glycomics research on a scale comparable to that of genomics and proteomics.

Project Summary: Development of novel “glycans” - sugar complex – biomarkers that might be useful as signposts for diagnosing multiple sclerosis and also for determining disease subtypes.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $390,000 to support the discovery of new biomarkers and targets that can improve the diagnosis and management of multiple sclerosis and enhance the efficacy of developing new therapeutic options. 

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Research at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh has led to the identification of a key pathway called, “retinoid X receptor” (RXR) and its role in the brain in patients with MS. This group has showed that when stimulated, this receptor causes nervous system repair (remyelination) in animal models of CNS demyelination and thus represents a novel target for stimulating nervous system repair in humans. The project grew out of findings from a Nervous System Repair and Protection Initiative funded through the Society’s Promise: 2010 campaign.

Project Summary: Identification of retinoic acid gamma agonist ‘hit like’ molecules which plays a role in forming new myelin in multiple sclerosis. This project aims to identify compounds that slow or stop worsening symptoms associated with loss of myelin.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $200,000 to support the virtual screening program to identify selective small molecule agonists of RXR gamma involved in repairing demyelinated axons in multiple sclerosis.  

University College London, London, UK

Research at the University College London has led to the development of a possible therapy to protect nerve damage. This group is developing a molecule similar to Cyclosporin (cyclophilin D inhibitor), which has been investigated as a possible neuroprotective agent in conditions such as traumatic brain injury, and has been shown in animal experiments to reduce brain damage associated with injury.

The project will focus on identifying and developing a new experimental compound and testing to see if it can induce neuroprotective effects while eliminating immune suppressive effects in the CNS in an animal model of MS.

Project Summary: Development and testing of a selective cyclophilin D (CyP-D) blocker for neuroprotection in multiple sclerosis.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $285,000 to support the synthesis and optimization of a variety of chemicals similar to cyclosporin A, which has been shown to inhibit cyclophilin D, in protecting nerve damage in MS. 

University of Miami, Miami, FL

Research at the University of Miami has led to the development of a possible therapy for treatment of cognitive impairment in MS. A group of researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine MS Center, in conjunction with Accera, is currently undertaking a study to examine the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of Axona for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction in MS. Previous research suggests that there may be flaws in how glucose is metabolized in the brains of individuals with MS. If these metabolic abnormalities are contributing to cognitive dysfunction in MS, Axona may provide a therapeutic strategy to treat MS-related cognitive problems. This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study will be conducted by this group and will enroll 158 people with MS at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine MS Center over the next three years who have experienced cognitive problems to determine whether Axona can help restore cognitive function to people with MS. 

Accera, Inc., Broomfield, CO

A privately-held, commercial-stage, healthcare company focused on the discovery and development of innovative clinical applications to address acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases. The company is now examining the effects of Accera’s medical food product, Axona, on cognitive impairment in patients with MS.

Project Summary: Clinical trial at the University of Miami to determine potential benefits of Accera’s medical food product, Axona, on cognitive impairment in people with MS.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $564,750 to support a double‐blind, randomized, placebo‐controlled study of Axona for cognitive impairment in MS. 

GE Healthcare, London, UK

Based in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare is a unit of General Electric Company and provides services in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance improvement and performance solutions services.

Project Summary: Development and testing of GE Healthcare’s TSPO-targeting PET imaging agent (GE180) as a tracer to monitor/detect neuroinflammation and response to disease modifying treatment in MS.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $400,000 to conduct in collaboration with Imperial College the first study on the effectiveness of the GE180 tracer in people with MS currently taking natalizumab to predict response to therapy. 

CuroNZ, Auckand, NZ

A small biotechnology company that is developing a drug candidate portfolio of Neural Regeneration Peptides (NRPs).  

Project Summary: Development and testing of CuroNZ’s NRP2945 candidate as a potential therapy to protect the nervous system and restore function in people with MS.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $540,000 to support the preclinical proof-of-concept studies of a neural regenerative peptide that targets CXCR4. 

Karo Bio AB, Huddinge, Sweden

A pharmaceutical company developing a range of innovative therapies for large medical needs. The company runs drug development projects mainly within the therapeutic areas of neuropsychiatry, inflammation, autoimmune diseases and cancer. Karo Bio has a number of strategic agreements and collaborations with international pharmaceutical companies.

Project Summary: Development and testing of Karo Bio’s lead compound, KB123944 towards Phase 1 clinical studies as a potential drug therapy for progressive forms of MS.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $499,631 to support IND-enabling preclinical studies of a new ER beta agonist for neuroprotection in MS.

ENDECE Neural, LLC, Mequon, Wisconsin

ENDECE Neural is a private biotechnology company developing therapies to repair and potentially reverse damage caused by devastating neurological diseases such as MS. A wholly-owned subsidiary of ENDECE LLC, ENDECE Neural is focused on discovery and development of drug candidates capable of inducing remyelination of damaged nerves in patients with MS. ENDECE Neural is developing NDC-1308, which appears to directly induce OPCs to differentiate into mature oligodendrocytes that restore the depleted myelin sheath around axons.

Project Summary: Preclinical development of the company’s lead compound, NDC-1308. If successfully developed into a therapeutic, NDC-1308 could provide physicians with a treatment that could restore and repair the protective covering surrounding axons (nerve fibers) in the brain and spinal cord.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $225,000 to support efficacy studies of NDC-1308 for remyelination and repair of demyelinated axons in MS. 

Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc., Natick, Massachusetts

Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc. is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on advancing a pipeline of novel nuclear transport modulators. Karyopharm’s Selective Inhibitors of Nuclear Export (SINE) function by trapping multiple tumor suppressor proteins in the nucleus. Preliminary evidence of anti-tumor activity across multiple tumor types has been observed by Karyopharm in preclinical studies and Phase 1 clinical trials. The Company is also testing SINEs in autoimmune, viral and dermatologic disorders.

Project Summary: Testing of lead compounds for neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties in MS towards selection of a clinical candidate and conduct of IND-enabling studies to support Phase 1 clinical study in MS.

Fast Forward Project Funding: $500,000 to support in vivo efficacy studies to select a leading SINE candidate as a treatment leading to neuroprotection and neuroregeneration in MS. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Mount Sinai School of Medicine. 

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