Case Western Reserve University start-up, NervGen Pharma, raises $7.5M from initial public offering
NervGen Pharma Corp., a Vancouver-based company founded to develop regenerative-medicine technology licensed from Case Western Reserve University, raised about $7.5 million ($10 million in Canadian dollars) from an initial public offering.
Shares of NervGen are to begin trading on the Canadian TSX Venture Exchange on March 15, under the symbol “NGEN.”
NervGen, a two-year-old company dedicated to creating innovative solutions to treat nerve damage, issued 10 million common shares at $1 per share (Canadian) on March 13. Proceeds will be used to advance NVG-291, the company’s lead product, toward clinical development to treat spinal-cord injuries.
“I am really impressed with the progress that NervGen has been able to make in such a short period of time,” said Michael Haag, executive director for technology management in the university’s Technology Transfer Office. “NervGen is a great regional success story, and it highlights the power of collaborative science and translational research support.”
Last June, Case Western Reserve and NervGen signed an exclusive licensing agreement to research, develop and commercialize a patented technology with potential to bring new therapies for spinal-cord injury and other conditions where scar tissue blocks regeneration—technology developed in the laboratory of Jerry Silver, co-inventor and professor of neurosciences at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.
“This is an especially exciting time,” Silver said, “not only for the future of NervGen but for me personally, since this fledgling company has now opened a door to the real possibility of bringing more than 30 years of my research on the basic mechanisms that can robustly enhance nerve regeneration in animal models of spinal cord injury all the way to human patients.”
NervGen continues to collaborate with Silver and another of its founders, Brad Lang, a former graduate student in the Silver lab and a co-inventor of NVG-291, who is now an executive-in-residence at BioEnterprise in Cleveland. Both are acting as advisors to advance the technology and science.
NervGen plans to initiate a clinical trial for NVG-291 beginning in 2020 under an Investigational New Drug (“IND”) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). The company intends to complete required pre-clinical non-human studies in 2019 and to meet with the FDA to review its plans to submit the IND.
While the immediate focus is clinical trials for NVG-291, NervGen plans to leverage the technology to identify therapeutic uses for other medical conditions where scar tissue blocks nerve growth, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, peripheral-nerve injury and heart attack.
Translational research support for the technology came from: the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders, Case Western Reserve’s Council to Advance Human Health, the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund, and the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership. In addition, the NIH’s Center for Accelerated Innovations at Cleveland Clinic provided support for related work directed toward cardiac applications.
The license agreement also includes technologies co-developed with Oregon Health & Science University, Ohio State University and Hong Kong University.