London-based biotech AstronauTx has closed £48 million Series A financing to create new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
AstronauTx is developing drugs to correct the disrupted physiology of the brain, partly through improving the support function of astrocytes, the most abundant cell type in the brain.
Novartis Venture Fund led the financing with Brandon Capital, Bristol Myers Squibb, EQT Life Sciences investing from the LSP Dementia Fund, MPM Capital alongside current investor the Dementia Discovery Fund.
The company was spun out of University College London in 2019, with seed funding from the £250 million Dementia Discovery Fund with additional seed-stage funding from the UCL Technology Fund and the UK Future Fund.
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Although AstronauTx does not expect any of its drugs to reach clinics for at least three or four years, the financing is a step towards helping millions of sufferers.
The company aimed to select its first lead compound for pre-clinical development in a year with clinical trials taking place between three to four years in the future, David Reynolds, chief executive of AstronauTx, told the Financial Times.
AstronauTx’s first patient products are not likely to be on the market until the 2030s.
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According to the World Health Organization, 55 million people worldwide have dementia and there are almost 10 million new cases every year, making it one of the most pressing global health problems.
The overall annual cost of Alzheimer’s to the world economy, including care costs, healthcare costs, lost productivity during earl onset, and people taking time away from their careers to become carers, is expected to reach £90bn a year by 2040.
Dr Ruth McKernan, co-founder of AstronauTx, said: “We now know that the processes causing Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases are modifiable.
“Progress towards a compendium of new drugs against these devastating diseases is thankfully well underway. Our treatments will be oral drugs, applicable across multiple neurodegenerative conditions, and additive with mechanisms that are currently in late-stage development.”
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