Neuro Startup Makes Debut With $20.9M From Novo, Johnson & Johnson


Syndesi Therapeutics launched with a $20.9 million Series A financing. The company, located at the Centre d’Enterprises et d’Innovation (CEI) in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, will focus on Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders, such as dementia and schizophrenia-related disorders.

The funding was from a partnership between UCB and a syndicate of Belgium and international investors. The investor syndicate is led by Novo Seeds and Fountain Healthcare along with Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, V-BIO Ventures, the Walloon Investment Fund (SSRIW) and VIVES Louvain Technology Fund.

Syndesi will work to modulate the synaptic vesicle protein SV2A. It has licensed a first-in-class small molecule program from UCB.

“Development of these small molecules that modulate the SV2A target in a distinct manner represents an intriguing new approach for the treatment of cognitive deficits since they specifically target synaptic dysfunction, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease and other indications characterized by cognitive impairment,” said Jonathan Savidge, chief executive officer of Syndesi, in a statement. “Syndesi benefits both from UCB’s research expertise and from an impressive syndicate of experienced investors and their respective networks.”

UCB stated, “UCB’s Neuroscience researchers in Belgium have designed a unique class of novel SV2A modulators. Unlike levetiracetam and other types of SV2A modulators discovered and developed by UCB for epilepsy, the novel compounds are devoid of anti-epileptic properties but have demonstrated robust pro-cognitive properties in preclinical models. Cognitive impairment currently being outside UCB’s strategic scope, the decision was made to have the program further developed externally to leverage its full potential. The discovery of these novel pro-cognitive SV2A modulators at UCB has benefitted from prior support of the Walloon Region, and Syndesi will use the Series A investment to build upon that work and move the lead molecule into clinical development.”

The company also has a presence at Johnson & Johnson’s JLINX incubator in Beerse. JLINX was founded in March 2016 via a collaboration between J&J’s Janssen and Bioqube Ventures. JLINX is transitioning to become a JLABS site, the first in Europe.

“For two years Vives Louvain Technology Fund has helped in creating the spin-out by contributing its know-how in founding high-tech startups,” said Philippe Durieux, chief executive officer of Sopartec-Vives, in a statement. “This investment illustrates our willingness to prioritize and accelerate scientific breakthroughs in domains as complex as Alzheimer’s disease by uniting actors from academia, industry and public service.”

“Cognitive impairment remains an area of significant unmet need for patients not only with Alzheimer’s disease but also more broadly across a range of neurological disorders, and we are excited about the potential promise of this novel therapeutic approach,” said Morten Graugaard Dossing, principal at Novo Seeds, in a statement. “I am thrilled to be working with the company which is supported by scientists at UCB and able to leverage Janssen neuroscience expertise via a presence at the JLINX incubator, all in an effort to develop products that could one day make a meaningful difference for patients suffering from cognitive impairment.”

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