CONNECTA THERAPEUTICS RAISES €1.7 M TO DEVELOP NEW TREATMENT FOR FRAGILE X SYNDROME
Inveready led the round of investment. CDTI and the biotechnology company’s founders also participated.
Connecta Therapeutics was founded in Barcelona in 2019 as a spin-off of Prous Institute for Biomedical Research to develop new therapies for the central nervous system.
Fragile X syndrome is an inherited genetic disorder that causes intellectual disabilities and emotional and social issues.
Connecta Therapeutics has closed a €1.7million round of investment led by Inveready that will allow the company to take its first drug through to phase IIa clinical trials in patients who have fragile X syndrome (FXS).
Other participants in Connecta’s capital increase included CDTI, through the Innvierte program for innovative Spanish technology companies; the founders of Prous Institute for Biomedical Research, Josep Prous and David Prous; and Jordi Fàbrega, former Director of Business Development at Biocat.
FXS is the most common type of inherited intellectual disability. It is currently diagnosed using DNA blood tests, but there is no specific treatment for the cause of the condition, only treatments to help alleviate its symptoms. FXS affects patients’ neuroplasticity, meaning their brain’s ability to recover and restructure on a molecular and cellular level. Neuroplasticity is key to development and learning, affects on neuroplasticity can lead to a decrease in intellectual capacity (mild to severe mental retardation) and social and behavioral problems (attention defect, hyperactivity, autism, etc.).
Preclinical studies have shown Connecta Therapeutics’ drug to be a good modulator of neuroplasticity, to improve cognitive abilities and reverse autism traits, such as issues with social interaction.
“We’re very happy that Inveready and CDTI have joined the company, not only as strategic partners and investors, but also bringing their experience in advancing projects with a huge impact on R&D. We would like to start clinical trials on this first-in-class drug as soon as possible to prove the efficacy of this therapeutic strategy for FXS,” explained Jordi Fàbrega, CEO of Connecta Therapeutics. The company expects to begin phase I trials in late 2021 and phase IIa in 2023.
“What sets this drug apart is that it modulates various proteins involved in the anomalies in the dendritic spines of cortical neurons in FXS,” explains Dr Mara Dierssen, Research Advisor to Connecta Therapeutics. This way, the drug can tackle problems that often limit the clinical utility of many pharmacological treatments, especially involving the central nervous system. Dr Dierssen leads the Cellular and Systems Neurobiology Group at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), world-renowned for its ground-breaking discoveries in intellectual disabilities and Down syndrome, and has participated actively in the preclinical development of Connecta’s drug.
This is Inveready’s eighth investment through the Biotech III fund. Sara Secall, Director of Inveready’s Operating Partner & Life Sciences Investment, notes that “in Connecta, we liked the solvency and daring of the entrepreneurial team, as well as the preclinical results. The drug targets a clear market need and has a profile that could be expanded to other neurodevelopmental disorders.”
Modulating neuroplasticity could be an effective strategy for other disorders of the central nervous system, as it has been seen to be affected in patients with decreased intellectual capacity and behavioral problems. In this regard, Connecta Therapeutics’ drug could be effective in patients with Rett syndrome, Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorders.
About Connecta Therapeutics
Connecta Therapeutics is a biotechnology company that is developing new treatments for unmet medical needs involving the central nervous system. It is initially focused on developing a first-in-class drug to treat fragile X syndrome. Founded in Barcelona in 2019 by Prous Institute for Biomedical Research, Josep Prous, David Prous and Jordi Fàbrega.
About Prous Institute for Biomedical Research
Prous Institute for Biomedical Research is a private research organization based in Barcelona that was created as a spin-off from Prous Science, a leading provider of scientific information that was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2007. The institute specializes in accelerating innovation in the life sciences through collaboration agreements with international centers of excellence.
Inveready Asset Management is one of the leading venture capital managers in the life sciences in Spain. It is currently investing in new technology start-ups through four specialized verticals (information technology, life sciences, venture debt and hybrid funding –debt and equity– for publicly traded companies). It has 136 active companies in its portfolio and over €400 million in assets managed. Over the past 11 years, the management firm has successfully completed disinvestment in more than 36 companies, including AB Biotics, Palobiofarma and Avizorex. Some companies in its portfolio have been acquired by multinational corporations such as Intel, Symantec and Red Hat (IBM), and others have gone public on markets such as the Nasdaq and the MAB.
The Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) is the General State Administration body supporting knowledge-based innovation, providing guidance and public financial aid for innovation through subsidies and partially refundable grants. The CDTI also helps internationalize business R&D and innovation projects for Spanish organizations and companies, and manages Spanish participation in international R&D bodies, such as Horizon 2020 and Eureka, and in the Science and Space industries. It also supports and facilitates capitalization of technology companies through the Innvierte Economía Sostenible initiative.