Startup Neuraly Launches with $36 Million: Targets Neurodegenerative Diseases

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Maryland-based Neuraly surged forth from the startup gate with $36 million in Series A funding that will finance the company’s research into the development of therapies for neurodegenerative disorders.

The company’s pipeline is centered on its lead product, NLY01, a potent, brain-penetrant long-acting Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonist. Neuraly said NLY01 has shown promise as a neuroprotective agent for neurologic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Part of the $36 million in financing will be used to take NLY01 into Phase I clinical trials later this year, the company said.

Neuraly was initially formed in 2016 based on research conducted by Ted Dawson, Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Professor in Neurodegenerative Diseases and Director of the Institute for Cell Engineering at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Neuraly acquired exclusive licenses to the research, including for NLY01. Research supporting the development of the lead product was published in Nature Medicine. Data in that study shows the critical role of the glial compartment of the neural tissue in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, Neuraly said. In clinically relevant animal models, NLY01 was found to prevent neuronal cell death by inhibition of microglial activation and formation of A1 neurotoxic astroglial cells. As a result, treatment with NLY01 slowed down disease progression, improved motor and cognitive functions, and extended the lifespan in mice with Parkinson’s disease.

Viktor Roschke, Neuraly’s chief scientific officer, said they expect NLY01 to become a pioneering treatment for Parkinson’s with low development risks. He said the company has seen “unprecedented efficacy in pre-clinical models” as well as “well-characterized safety profiles” in a similar class of molecules

“Currently, there aren’t any treatments that reverse, stop, or even slow neurodegeneration in diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The treatments that do exist – all symptomatic – provide only temporary improvement in motor and cognitive function, but even these become less effective over time,” Seulki Lee, chief executive officer of Neuraly said in a statement. “We believe that the science supports NLY01 as a potential disease-modifying therapy capable of slowing the progression of disease.”

The Series A funding was supported by holding company, D&D Pharmatech. Additionally, it was supported by multiple Korean venture funds, including Smilegate Investment, InterVest, LB Investment, Magna Investment, Geon Investment and Dongkoo Bio & Pharma. Two U.S.-based funds, Octave Life Sciences and Maryland Venture Fund, also participated in this financing, the company said.

As part of the funding agreement, John Ku, executive vice president of Smilegate Investment, Phillip Jung, an associate at Maryland Venture Fund, Junghee Lim, executive managing director of InterVest and Keele Park, CEO of Magna Investment, will assume positions on the Neuraly board of directors. 

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