An Alzheimer’s Antibiotic Receives Initial Funding

Alzheimer’s disease startup Cortexyme was able to round up $76 million in funding for a potentially first-in-class treatment, while other companies are looking to move away from the field, according to a posting today on FierceBiotech.

The healthy sum comes after the company completed an early safety study of its lead protease inhibitor, COR388, which instead targets a bacterial infection in the brain that it believes causes the degenerative symptoms of the disease. It plans to launch a phase 2 trial next year to try to prove the drug’s efficacy.

Cortexyme’s new investors in the series B round included Sequoia Capital, Vulcan Capital, Alphabet’s Verily Life Sciences, EPIQ Capital Group, RSL Investments, Huizenga Capital and an unnamed mutual fund. They joined previous funders Pfizer, Takeda Ventures, Lamond Family, Breakout Ventures and Dolby Family Ventures.

And earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen arm ended clinical trials for its BACE inhibitor atabacestat, following liver safety issues in late-onset Alzheimer’s patients. However, Janssen said it “continues to maintain a strong commitment to discovering and developing new treatments for this devastating disease.”

Meanwhile, Roivant Sciences’ spinout, Axovant, recently came out with negative results in a phase 2b trial of intepirdine in Lewy body dementia. The company had acquired intepirdine, a 5-HT6 inhibitor, from GlaxoSmithKline for just $5 million upfront in 2014.

By contrast, Cortexyme’s COR388 targets a pathogen discovered in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients by the startup’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, Stephen Dominy, MD, and employs a different mechanism of action compared to broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Another potential Alzheimer’s success is under investigation by EMERGE investigators (Aducanumab, Biogen). Biogen’s two large-scale randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled Phase 3 clinical trials, called ENGAGE (NCT02477800) and EMERGE (NCT02484547), have been conducted in people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease, according to Alzheimer’s News Today.  ENGAGE aims to enroll 1,350 patients at 187 sites in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia. EMERGE also aims to enroll the same number of patients at 194 sites in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Both trials aim to assess the efficacy of aducanumab, given once a month at low and high doses by IV infusion, in treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment’s efficacy will be measured by changes from baseline, or study start, in CDR-SB, MMSE, Alzheimer’s disease assessment scale-cognitive subscale 13 items (ADAS-Cog 13), and Alzheimer’s disease cooperative study-activities of daily living inventory mild cognitive impairment version (ADCS-ADL-MCI) score over a 78-week period. The trials are expected to conclude in 2022.

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