LoQus23 Therapeutics exits stealth with £11.5 million seed financing from the Dementia Discovery Fund and Novartis Venture Fund
- Company targets DNA mismatch repair pathways to slow neurodegeneration in Huntington’s Disease and other triplet repeat disorders
- LoQus23’s structure-based approach focuses on oral small molecule drugs
Cambridge, UK – 23rd November 2021 – LoQus23 Therapeutics Ltd. (‘LoQus23’), a company discovering small molecule therapies that target aberrant DNA mismatch repair (MMR) to treat Huntington’s and other triplet repeat diseases (TRDs), announces the successful closing of its £7 million extended seed round. LoQus23 secured the financing from Novartis Venture Fund (NVF) and its founding investor the Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF). This round follows an initial £4.5 million seed investment by the DDF in 2019.
Triplet repeat diseases are genetic disorders that primarily affect the nervous system and are caused by abnormal trinucleotide repeat expansions. Human genome-wide association studies on Huntington’s disease and other TRDs has shown clearly that clinical disease measures such as age of onset and rate of progression are critically modified by genetic variants that increase MMR pathway activity. Aberrant activity of the MMR pathway leads to further expansions of trinucleotide repeats in the DNA sequence. This translates into more toxicity in the neurones of vulnerable brain regions, thus accelerating the rate of neurodegeneration.
LoQus23’s differentiated, structure-based approach targets proteins involved in MMR with small molecule drugs to stop DNA instability and slow neurodegeneration in Huntington’s disease, myotonic dystrophy type 1 and other TRDs. Oral small molecule drugs have a strong track record in treating complex brain diseases and provide greater convenience for patients compared with other treatment approaches, which require invasive procedures such as spinal taps, intrathecal infusions or brain surgery.
The financing will enable LoQus23 to identify a small molecule drug candidate for the company’s lead MMR target and explore other MMR proteins for their role in somatic instability in TRDs.
David Reynolds, CEO and Co-Founder of LoQus23, said: “We’re delighted that NVF is joining the Dementia Discovery Fund in this extended seed round. Small molecule therapies have an established precedent of efficacy and safety in treating CNS disorders, giving us greater confidence of success when using this approach to target aberrant DNA mismatch repair, and with NVF and DDF behind us LoQus23 is well positioned to advance its pipeline of disease-modifying drugs in triplet repeat disorders.”
Christian Jung, Partner at the Dementia Discovery Fund and Board Director at LoQus23, said: “This significant early interest in LoQus23 is a strong validation of the company’s approach to pursue genetically-validated targets for the treatment of triplet repeat diseases. Discovering oral drugs that are effective against aberrant DNA mismatch repair could significantly improve the lives of patients with devastating genetic diseases like Huntington’s, and it’s great to see that both DDF and NVF have recognised the same potential in the company, which has rapidly become one of the frontrunners in the field of disease-modifying drugs in this TRD space.”
Florian Muellershausen, Managing Director at NVF, will join LoQus23’s Board of Directors.
About LoQus23 Therapeutics Ltd
LoQus23 is a biotech company discovering oral therapies targeting aberrant DNA mismatch repair for the treatment of Huntington’s Disease and other triplet repeat disorders. Targeting DNA mismatch repair has the potential to stop DNA instability and therefore slow neurodegeneration in these diseases. LoQus23 is focused on using a structure-based approach to design small molecule drugs, which can offer more convenient administration than other approaches.
LouQs23 was founded in 2019 by members of the Dementia Discovery Fund including Dr David Reynolds, Dr Caroline Benn, and Dr Ruth McKernan FMedsci CBE. The Company is headquartered in Cambridge, UK.
About The Dementia Discovery Fund
The Dementia Discovery Fund (DDF) is a £250m specialist venture capital fund investing in, and creating, biotech companies pursuing transformational therapeutic approaches for dementias including Alzheimer’s disease. The DDF brings significant capital and domain expertise to enable talented entrepreneurs to bring therapeutics addressing one of the world’s largest unmet medical needs to the clinic – ultimately aiming to generate significant returns for its investors.
The DDF is enabled by its networks and influential group of investors including some leading pharmaceutical companies (Biogen, Eli Lilly and Co., GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka (Astex), Pfizer and Takeda), along with AARP, Aegon, Bill Gates, British Patient Capital, NFL Players Association, Quest Diagnostics, UnitedHealth Group, the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care, and the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK. The Fund is managed by SV Health Investors.
Learn more at www.TheDDFund.com
LoQus23 Therapeutics Ltd
David Reynolds, CEO
Sylvie Berrebi, Evelyn McCormack, George Underwood
+44 (0)203 392 8535