Drumroll... New Company Prevail Therapeutics Launched

Drumroll... New Company Prevail Therapeutics Launched August 9, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

New York – A new biotech company, Prevail Therapeutics, launched with the intention of discovering and developing new biologic therapies for Parkinson’s Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Prevail was founded by the Silverstein Foundation for Parkinson’s with GBA, REGENXBIO , and OrbiMed.

In addition, Prevail inked an exclusive global licensing deal with REGENXBIO to develop and market gene therapy products using REGENXBIO’s NAV AAV9 vector for Parkinson’s and other related neurodegenerative diseases.

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement. It typically develops slowly, often beginning with small tremors in one hand. Symptoms include tremor, slowed movement, rigid muscles, impaired posture and balance, loss of automatic movements, and speech changes. The disease affects more than 10 million people worldwide.

Researchers have identified several new genes and risk factors for the disease, including the glucocerebrosidase (GBA1) gene mutation. It is the most common mutation currently identified in Parkinson’s mutations, and accounts for up to 10 percent of individuals with the disease in the U.S. Recent research has linked the GBA1 gene, glucocerebrosidase (GCase) protein production, and the accumulation of alpha-synuclein in the brain.

“As a leader in gene therapy, we are pleased to collaborate with Prevail in the development of life-changing therapies for patients suffering from serious neurodegenerative diseases for which better treatment options are needed,” said Ken Mills, president and chief executive officer of REGENXBIO in a statement. “We view the formation of Prevail as an important part of our mission to enable the use of our NAV Technology Platform to develop successful new therapeutics for patients suffering from severe diseases with significant unmet need.”

Prevail was co-founded by Asa Abeliovich, faculty at Columbia University and co-founder of Alector. He will act as Prevail’s chief executive officer. “Current treatments for Parkinson’s Disease are focused on alleviating symptoms,” Abeliovich said in a statement. “Prevail is focused on developing disease-modifying therapies that slow, stop, and reverse the neurodegenerative process.”

Jonathan Silverstein is a partner and co-head of Private Equity at OrbiMed. He is on the Board of Trustees of the Silverstein Foundation. During his history at OrbiMed since 1998, he had invested in healthcare companies that have led to over 60 products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As such, he has chaired several biotechnology companies focused on rare diseases, including Enobia (sold to Alexion ), Intercept Pharmaceuticals , Audentes , and as a director of Ascendis and Rhythm Therapeutics.

The Silverstein Foundation for Parkinson’s with GBA was founded in 2017. To date, the Foundation has provided a grant to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, a grant to the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center in San Francisco, and two grants to Columbia University directed towards GBA-related research.

Silverstein was diagnosed at the age of 50 with Parkinson’s with GBA. Although the diagnosis undoubtedly spurred the initiation of the foundation and the launch of Prevail, as an investor with OrbiMed he had invested in companies working on Parkinson’s in the past. Silverstein founded the Silverstein Foundation with more than $10 million of his own money.

Alex Konrad, writing for Forbes, said in April 2017, “In the two months since the diagnosis, Silverstein has already met with (Todd) Sherer [CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation] and the CEO of another leading nonprofit, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, to talk partnerships for the research he’ll back. He’s begun hiring a new team to help him spot the drugs. Silverstein has no plans to stop investing at OrbiMed. ‘I’m fortunate enough to have no hobbies,” he says. ‘The only thing I’m good at is venture capital.’”

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