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AstronauTx secures investment from UCL Technology Fund to further new approaches to dementia therapeutics

24 March 2020


London, UK 24 March, 2020 AstronauTx Ltd, a biotech company developing new medicines designed to restore the normal behaviour of astrocytes for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, today announces £1 million investment from the UCL Technology Fund to enable the development of translatable biomarkers for their drug discovery programs.

The UCL Technology Fund is a £53.3million investment fund that is co-managed by UCL Business and AlbionVC that invests in licensing projects and spinout companies arising from the UCL knowledge base.

Simon Goldman, Investment Manager for the UCL Technology Fund said:

“We’re delighted to be supporting the world-leading academic and translational team that has been brought together in AstronauTx. Finding new ways to tackle the causes and symptoms of dementia will be critical for treating this enormous global unmet need.”

AstronauTx was formed in March 2019 by the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) and represents the first partnership between the DDF and Alzheimer’s Research UK’s £30m Drug Discovery Alliance. This alliance is the UK’s largest university-based dementia drug discovery initiative designed to act as a bridge between academic research and the pharmaceutical industry and unite Institutes at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford as well as UCL.

Astrocytes are crucial support cells in the brain, normally helping brain cells to function properly, but in Alzheimer’s disease they change and can actually contribute to the damage. Alzheimer’s Research UK UCL Drug Discovery Institute (DDI), led by Prof Paul Whiting, has identified a potential way to regulate astrocyte activity, keeping brain cells healthier for longer. Building upon this novel research, AstronauTx is developing new medicines designed to restore the supportive functions of astrocytes.

Dr David Reynolds, Chief Executive of AstronauTx Ltd, said:

“AstronauTx serves as a fantastic example of how the dementia research landscape is collaborating to progress the UK’s dementia drug discovery work and we are delighted to welcome the UCL Technology Fund into this collaboration. Partnerships are crucial for the success of our work and this new investment reflects the continued support for Alzheimer’s disease therapies targeting novel therapeutic pathways.

As scientists continue to understand the role astrocytes play in the disease, it’s becoming increasingly clear that they represent a promising target for future medicines. This investment will enable AstronauTx to continue to build upon the encouraging progress we have made to date.”

About the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF)

The DDF is a £250 million venture capital fund focussed on investing in early-stage companies discovering and developing novel therapeutics that could have material impact on neurodegenerative diseases causing dementia. Seven leading pharmaceutical companies (Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda), AARP, Aegon, Bill Gates, British Patient Capital, NFL Players Association, Quest Diagnostics, UnitedHealth Group, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care and charity Alzheimer’s Research UK among others have invested in the DDF. Senior neuroscientists represent many of these strategic investors on the DDF Scientific Advisory Board and work closely with SV’s dedicated team to identify and evaluate novel approaches for the treatment of dementia. www.theddfund.com

About the UCL DDI

The UCL Drug Discovery Institute, a dedicated centre working towards new approaches to tackle diseases that cause dementia, is part of a wider Drug Discovery Alliance, funded by the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK and launched in 2015.

About UCL Technology Fund:

The UCL Technology Fund is dedicated to investing in intellectual property commercialisation opportunities arising from UCL’s world-class research base, focusing in particular on the physical and life sciences. The Fund supports UCL in achieving the full potential of innovations that have prospects for outstanding societal and market impact, right through the development journey from initial proof of concept to practical commercial application.

The Fund is co-managed by AlbionVC, one of the largest independent venture capital investors in the UK in collaboration with UCLB, UCL’s commercialisation company.

Dr David Reynolds, Chief Executive of AstronauTx Ltd, is a visiting Professor at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology.