Polyneuron Attracts High-Profile Investors  


The Basel-based drug developer Polyneuron has convinced Sofinnova Partners and New Enterprise Associates of the potential of its autoantibody scavenger PN-1007. They participated in Polyneuron’s CHF 22.5 million Series A round.


After Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals AG received initial financing of CHF 3.1 million a year ago, its boss Ruben Herrendorff (photo) told that he was confident that international venture capitalists would also be involved in the upcoming Series A round. With Sofinnova Partners (Paris, France) and New Enterprise Associates (Menlo Park, USA), two extremely experienced venture capitalists were presented at the end of March 2019. Together with the existing investors EVA Basel, Zürcher Kantonalbank and some private investors, they are providing Polyneuron with CHF 22.5 million (EUR 20.1 million).


The funds will be used to conduct a phase Ia study of lead candidate PN-1007. In addition, the company will advance the preclinical development of three injectable glycopolymer candidates identified via its proprietary Antibody Catch™ platform. These include development programs in the indications of multifocal motor neuropathy and transplantations for ABO blood group incompatibilities.


Polyneuron aims to alleviate autoimmune diseases by scavenging disease-causing autoantibodies circulating in the body. Said autoantibodies attack carbohydrate structures on the surface of nerves or glial cells. The attack can lead, among other things, to disrupted stimulus transmission. Initially, the focus is on rare diseases, later the approach could also be successful in more important indications such as multiple sclerosis. The workflow established by Polyneuron starts with the analysis of the natural structures attacked by autoantibodies. Building on these glycoepitopes, so-called glycomimetics are then produced. If a suitable candidate is found among them, large numbers of these are packed onto a peptide backbone. This polymer is then introduced into the body, where it very selectively binds only the problematic autoantibodies and thus neutralizes them (Antibody-Catch™).


PN-1007 is being developed for the rare disease peripheral neuropathy type MAG. Here, IgM autoantibodies attack the myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) of glial cells. In animal models, symptoms such as tremors and muscle weakness disappeared after a single treatment for several days. “We are currently assuming that after an initial, very short treatment phase with several administrations, a maintenance dosage of around once a month could well be possible,” Herrendorff told a year ago. He classifies the manufacturing costs as follows: “We believe that they are higher than for small molecule substances, but also significantly lower than for a monoclonal antibody like Rituxan, which is currently the most common off-label treatment for peripheral neuropathy type MAG. ”


Polyneuron was founded in 2014 as a spin-off from the University of Basel. The start-up was among the 13 premiere teams that were supported in 2017 by the Basellaunch regional funding program. CHF 1.9 million was raised from the Gebert-Rüf-Foundation and the Swiss Foundation for Research into Muscle Diseases, among others.

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