Progentos receives $65M to develop myelin regeneration therapies

Company is developing small molecules to induce remyelation

Andrea Lobo, PhD avatar

by Andrea Lobo, PhD |

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Progentos Therapeutics said it received $65 million in funding to support the development of myelin regeneration medications able to restore function in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other diseases marked by myelin loss.

The biotech company said it will use the funds to advance its MS program to proof-of-concept clinical studies and expand its myelin-restoring small molecule pipeline to other degenerative conditions.

“While there are many treatments that are highly effective at slowing the progression of disease, there is a significant unmet need for new approaches that can regenerate myelin and restore function for patients with MS,” Chris Loose, PhD, Progentos’ CEO, said in a company press release. Loose founded the company along with Sanjay Magavi, PhD, chief scientific officer.

MS is caused by a misguided immune system attack against the myelin sheath, a protective coating around nerve fibers that’s crucial for proper nerve cell communication. This leads to loss of myelin (demyelination) and damage to nerve cells, which prevents them from sending electrical signals as efficiently and results in MS symptoms.

Although available therapies can reduce immune attacks to the brain and spinal cord and slow disease progression, they are not able to repair damage that has already occurred. That means there’s an unmet need for remyelinating, or myelin-repairing, therapies that can potentially restore some of the lost function.

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Small molecules stimulate body to repair myelin

Progentos is developing small molecules designed to induce remyelination by increasing the number of oligodendrocytes — specialized cells that produce myelin — in the brain and spinal cord.

The therapies work by promoting the differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells into fully mature oligodendrocytes, an approach that essentially stimulates the body’s natural repair mechanisms to replace the lost myelin.

According to the company, scientists have already identified and validated a novel target that regenerates myelin in animal models. Progentos’ proprietary molecules have outperformed previous approaches in differentiating oligodendrocyte progenitor cells into new oligodendrocytes.

“I am thrilled with the support received from this group of investors and appreciate their recognition of the need to advance the current standard of care for the millions of individuals impacted by MS and other demyelinating diseases,” Loose said.

The financing round was led by Netherlands-based Forbion, and joined by Alta Partners, Mission BioCapital, Longwood Fund, and Dolby Family Ventures.

“We are truly excited to be part of Progentos’ journey towards delivering potentially disease-modifying drugs for diseases like multiple sclerosis, diseases with high unmet clinical needs,” said Dmitrij Hristodorov, PhD, general partner at Forbion. “Chris and Sanjay are bringing a high level of technical expertise, entrepreneurship, and leadership and we are honored to support them in this endeavor.”