AstronauTx, a biotech company spun out from UCLB, developing new treatments for neurodegenerative conditions based on amplifying the brain’s own physiological protective mechanisms, has closed a $61m (£48m) Series A funding.
AstronauTx was created by the Dementia Discovery Fund in 2019, with additional seed stage funding from the UCL Technology Fund and the UK Future Fund. Its goal is to develop novel drugs to correct the disrupted physiology of the brain, partly through improving the support function of astrocytes, the most abundant cell type in the brain.
Proceeds from the Series A will be used to advance a portfolio of programmes and take the lead molecule into clinical trials. The financing was led by the Novartis Venture Fund, attracting capital from several global venture investors including Brandon Capital, Bristol Myers Squibb, EQT Life Sciences investing from the LSP Dementia Fund, and MPM Capital with participation from current investor, the Dementia Discovery Fund.
In July 2023, AstronauTx announced a partnership with Saniona, a Danish biotechnology company, to identify new treatments by modulating a novel, undisclosed ion channel target, expanding the company’s portfolio of programmes. In September 2023, AstronauTx was awarded an Innovate UK grant to fund preclinical work on one of its programmes.
The proceeds of the Series A financing will be used to advance the company’s portfolio of small-molecule drugs including a clinical study in patients with Alzheimer’s disease for the lead programme. The treatments are expected to provide both, symptomatic and disease modifying benefit.
“We now know that the processes causing Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases are modifiable. Progress towards a compendium of new drugs against these devastating diseases is thankfully well underway. Our treatments will be oral drugs, applicable across multiple neurodegenerative conditions, and additive with mechanisms that are currently in late-stage development,” said Dr. Ruth McKernan, co-founder of AstronauTx.
Dr Richard Fagan, Director of BioPharm at UCLB, added: “AstronauTx is an exciting example of the outstanding research being undertaken at UCL, and we look forward to seeing new treatments for neurodegenerative conditions based on amplifying the brain’s own physiological protective mechanisms.
Simon Goldman, Partner UCL Technology Fund, said: “Congratulations to AstronauTx on completion of their Series A. The financing round led by the Novartis Venture Fund and attracting capital from several leading global venture investors will enable the company to continue on its mission to create an alternative treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. This is a great example on the type of investment that we at the UCL Technology Fund strive to back- breakthrough UCL research that has the potential for enormous positive societal impact while generating financial return.”
Read more: AstronauTx website