Leading Australian life sciences venture capital firm, Brandon Capital, has invested in neuroscience company NRG Therapeutics as part of its £16 million ($29 million) series A financing.
Brandon Capital said it participated alongside Omega Funds, which led the round, as well as NRG’s founding investor, Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech.
It is Brandon’s second investment in the UK since opening its London office in 2021, following its recently announced investment in Pheon Therapeutics.
NRG is researching mitochondrial biology with the goal of developing disease-modifying therapeutics to slow or halt the progression of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and ALS (also known as motor neurone disease or MND).
The Series A proceeds will be used to advance the company’s potential first-in-class brain-penetrant small molecules through IND-enabling studies.
NRG is targeting a novel pathological mechanism in ALS that was identified by Professor Seth Masters at Australia’s WEHI (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research), a Brandon BioCatalyst member institute.
NRG’s approach is based on inhibiting a novel protein within the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) in neurons, which has been shown to be neuroprotective in several preclinical models of Parkinson’s and ALS.
Professor Masters' research showed that the mPTP is involved in the pathology of ALS.
NRG has an ongoing research collaboration agreement with WEHI to further drug discovery based on pioneering studies funded by a grant awarded to WEHI from FightMND.
Professor Masters has joined the NRG management team as vice president of discovery biology. His laboratory at WEHI in Melbourne will also include a sponsored team as part of an expanded research agreement between NRG and WEHI.
Brandon Capital partner Jonathan Tobin said, “We are delighted to add NRG Therapeutics to our growing European portfolio. Brandon Capital was attracted to the company by its first-in-class mechanism that could make a major difference to patients with devastating neurodegenerative diseases, combined with the seasoned management team that Brandon has backed previously.
“Given Brandon Capital’s heritage in Australia, we have a unique advantage in bringing insights and opportunities to our portfolio companies through access to the world-class science in Australia and its favourable environment for clinical development. We are delighted to see the collaboration between NRG and WEHI, with Professor Seth Masters further strengthening the NRG team.”
Professor Masters said, “I am excited to be joining the NRG team alongside leading my group at WEHI. We were the first to identify a novel mechanism by which neuroinflammation is triggered in TDP-43 proteinopathies.
"Our assessment of cells lines, a mutant TDP-43 model, and human ALS-affected spinal cord samples provides support for a model where TDP-43 liberates mtDNA into the cytoplasm via the mPTP to activate cGAS/STING signalling.
"I look forward to exploring with NRG whether targeting this pathway with its novel mPTP inhibitors can improve the symptoms of neuronal decline in patients with disease involving TDP-43 proteinopathy, such as ALS.”
NRG Therapeutics’ co-founder and CEO Dr Neil Miller added, “We are delighted to welcome Omega Funds and Brandon Capital as new investors and thank Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech for its continued support. We look forward to working with them, and our expanding team and R&D partners to bring new medicines and hope to the growing number of people worldwide living with debilitating neurological diseases.”