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9 November, 2022 - 10:09 By Tony Quested

Omega Funds leads £16m Series A round for NRG Therapeutics

Neuroscience company NRG Therapeutics has raised £16 million Series A cash and shifted its base from Cambridge to Stevenage in the process.

The round – led by US investor Omega Funds in Boston – is designed to advance disease-modifying oral medicines for debilitating chronic neurodegenerative disorders through IND-enabling studies. The disease areas targeted feature Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease.

Omega is joined by additional new backer Brandon Capital – Australasia’s leading life science venture capital firm – and founding investor the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech.

With this financing, NRG Therapeutics has moved from a virtual office in Cambridge to its base at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst which provides laboratory space and access to other services as it grows. 

CEO Dr Neil Miller explained: “SBC is ideally located between Cambridge and London and within easy reach of the academic centres of the golden triangle. 

“It offers easy access by train and is also close to the R & D site of a major pharma, GSK, so provides a pool of like-minded scientists for networking and recruitment as we grow.”

Law firm Mills & Reeve – lead forensic sponsor of the Business Weekly Awards – advised NRG in the transaction with Zickie Lim heading the team.

The Series A proceeds will be used to advance NRG’s potential first-in-class brain-penetrant small molecules through IND-enabling studies.

Its pre-clinical pipeline includes small molecule assets which inhibit the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) through a novel mechanism of action.

Mitochondria are the powerhouses or batteries of cells and therefore are essential for maintaining cell health. There is now a substantial body of evidence demonstrating that mitochondrial failure or dysfunction is common across many degenerative diseases.

Inhibition of the mPTP has been shown to protect neurons, reduce neuroinflammation, and extend survival in pre-clinical disease models.

In vitro studies have demonstrated NRG’s investigational new drugs protect mitochondria and increase the viability of human cells and therefore have the potential to halt or significantly slow the progression of disease in individuals with Parkinson’s or ALS. 

If successful in clinical trials, NRG’s therapeutics would be the first disease-modifying medicine to prevent or delay disease progression for people with Parkinson’s, where current treatments only provide management of disease symptoms.  

NRG is targeting a novel pathological mechanism in ALS, through which the protein TDP-43 triggers neuroinflammation via activation of the innate immune sensor STING, that was identified by its collaborator Professor Seth Masters, at Australia’s WEHI (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research). 

Following the financing, Professor Masters has joined the NRG management team as VP of Discovery Biology. His laboratory at WEHI in Melbourne will also include a sponsored team as part of a research agreement between NRG and WEHI.

The Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech is the international drug discovery and development programme founded in 2017 by Parkinson’s UK, the largest European charitable funder of Parkinson’s research. 

Since 2019, the Virtual Biotech has supported NRG’s work as it looks to accelerate new treatments for Parkinson’s in years and not decades.

In connection with the financing, Omega Funds’ managing director Claudio Nessi and partner Francesco Draetta, as well as Brandon Capital partner Jonathan Tobin have joined NRG’s board.

Zickie Lim of Mills & Reeve said: “It’s fantastic to see NRG secure this vital funding to help bring its transformative therapeutic approaches a step closer to patients. Neurodegenerative diseases affect millions worldwide and with ageing populations continuing to rise, if left unchecked, 30 years from now it is estimated that more than 115 million people could be afflicted. We’re proud to be able to play a small part in NRG’s important efforts in this field.”

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