Regenacy Pharma Earns $30 Million Series A to Advance Diabetic Neuropathy Drug
Regenacy Pharmaceuticals in Waltham, Massachusetts closed a $30 million Series A financing. The round was co-led by Cobro Ventures and Taiwania Capital Management Corporation. Other participants included 3E Bioventures Capital, Yonjin Capital, VIVA Biotech Holdings, TA YA Venture Holdings and undisclosed private investors.
“We are fortunate to have the strong support of investors aligned with our mission to provide lasting relief of all symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy,” said Simon Jones, Regenacy’s president and chief executive officer. “Our preclinical studies demonstrate that selectively inhibiting HDAC6 has the potential to safely restore nerve function in multiple peripheral neuropathies, and we are looking forward to advancing our lead program into Phase II studies this year.”
In 2016, after Celgene passed on an option to acquire Acetylon Pharmaceuticals, the two companies spun out Regenacy Pharmaceuticals. Celgene, now part of Bristol Myers Squibb, at the time acquired much of Acetylon’s assets, then the two spun the rest into Regenacy. Celgene at the time picked up partial rights to two Acetylon drugs, citarinostat and ricolinostat. Celgene had worldwide rights to develop both for cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and autoimmune diseases.
Regenacy held the rights to develop the drugs for other things, such as nerve pain. Regenacy plans to use the funds raised to advance its lead compound, ricolinostat, in diabetic peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage caused by both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The nerve can cause numbness or decreased ability to feel pain or temperature changes, burning or tingling sensations, cramps, increased sensitivity to touch, and foot problems such as ulcers, infections, as well as bone and joint pain. It affects about 50% of diabetic patients, more than 200 million people around the world.
The company will launch a Phase II proof-of-concept trial with ricolinostat in diabetic peripheral neuropathy. In Phase I and II trials, the drug showed good safety and tolerability.
Ricolinostat is an oral drug that selectively blocks histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6). When HDAC6 is inhibited, the company believes nerve cells can better regulate the microtubules that move substances around the cells. When that movement is interfered with, the nerve cells don’t work properly, sending no signals or signals randomly.
The company also plans to evaluate the drug in peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy and resulting from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2. Regenacy also has other compounds in its pipeline that target the HDAC enzymes that may be developed for leukemia, sickle cell disease, beta thalassemia, and neurological disorders.
As part of the financing, Michael Huang, managing partner at Taiwani, Frank Yan, operating partner at 3E and Daguang Wang, managing director of Yonjin, are joining Regenacy’s board of directors.
“I have had the pleasure of working with the Regenacy team on evaluating ricolinostat,” said William Chin, Professor of Medicine Emeritus, Harvard Medical School, Scientific Advisory Board Member and Board of Directors Member of Regenacy. “To me, the scientific reasoning behind HDAC6 inhibition for this indication is very clear, as it has significant potential to reverse the symptoms of and restore nerve fibers in different peripheral neuropathies by regulating neuronal microtubule function.”