E-Scape Bio, a biopharmaceutical company developing therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases, announced it has closed an extension of its Series A financing bringing the total amount raised in the round to $63 million. The original investment was led by OrbiMed, with participation from Novo Holding A/S, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc. (JJDC), Novartis Venture Fund and Osage University Partners. New investors include Lilly Asia Ventures and Sutter Hill Ventures.
E-Scape Bio is developing small-molecule drugs that target the inherited genetic drivers of neurodegenerative disorders and correct the dysfunctional proteins at the root of the disease. The lead program targets the Apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4) protein structure — a major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Co-founded by Robert Mahley, M.D., Ph.D., and Yadong Huang, M.D., Ph.D., from the Gladstone Institutes, E-Scape Bio is built on their pioneering research to understand the role of Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) in the nervous system, and linking ApoE4—a variant of ApoE—to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.
“The ApoE4 allele is not only the strongest genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, it is considered a driver of disease in patients with one or more copies of the allele,” said Robert Mahley, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder of E-Scape Bio and president emeritus and senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes.
Yadong Huang, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder of E-Scape Bio and senior investigator at Gladstone added: “Our work demonstrates that ApoE4 structure is the key to unlocking small molecules capable of targeting the most prominent genetic risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease.”
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting approximately 5.5 million Americans, and one in 10 people over the age of 65. According to a report by the Alzheimer’s Association, total annual payments for health care, long-term care and hospice care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are projected to increase from $259 billion in 2017 to more than $1.1 trillion in 2050. The greatest risk factors for late-onset Alzheimer’s are older age, having a family history of Alzheimer’s and carrying the ApoE4 gene. Carrying the ApoE4 gene increases risk of developing disease, is associated with earlier onset of disease progression, and is the strongest prognostic factor for Alzheimer’s.
“Our investors were attracted to our novel technology for targeting the genetic drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, two diseases that are rapidly growing in prevalence as our population continues to live longer into old age,” said Leon Chen, Ph.D., interim chief executive officer of E-Scape Bio. “We believe we have a solution for these challenging genetic targets that clearly have a role in the progression of these diseases, and will apply our resources to rapidly build our pipeline and advance towards the clinic.”
Filed Under: Drug Discovery