Princeton-based iQure Pharma Inc., a biotech company focused on the development of new therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases, recently said it raised $1.2 million in funding to progress with IND-enabling pivotal tox studies for its lead asset, iQ-007, a novel therapeutic candidate to treat epilepsy and other neurodegenerative conditions.
The funding round was led by Munich-based life science fund Ventura BioMed Investors and anchor early-stage medtech investor OKG Capital. Both investors see this round as a first step toward further funding to complete preclinical development and start Phase 1 trials.
“Addressing neurodegeneration and preventing seizures in an effective and safe manner is a critical medical and social need,” Pawel Zolnierczyk, iQure CEO, said.
Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide and approximately 30% of them struggle to control their seizures using current medication. Many also suffer from reduced quality of life due to medication side effects. In addition, aging populations are contributing to a surge in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, with over 55 million people currently suffering from dementia and 10 million new cases identified every year.
iQ-007 is a neuromodulator targeting toxic levels of glutamate in the synaptic cleft. An elevated level of glutamate leads to neurotoxicity and ultimately to neural degeneration. iQ-007 operates by a Positive Allosteric Modulation of Excitatory Amino Acid Transporter 2, or EAAT2 PAM, which is responsible for up to 90% of glutamate uptake. A decrease in EAAT2 function is observed in epilepsy, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, neuropathic pain and ALS. Preclinical in vivo efficacy and safety data strongly support the potential value of this compound for patients suffering from epilepsy, including those who have seen limited success with seizure control using existing medications. iQ-007 has successfully completed the prestigious NIH ETSP epilepsy screening program and pivotal tox studies are ongoing.
The company is looking to start clinical development of iQ-007 in 2024.