UCL spinout raises £48m funding for new approach to Alzheimer’s

MRI of the brain

University College London (UCL) spinout AstronauTx has closed a £48m ($61m) Series A financing to develop novel treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

The company was launched in 2019, initially to build on research from the Alzheimer’s Research UK UCL Drug Discovery Institute (UCL DDI).

Protoplasmic astrocytes play an active role in neuronal communication through synapses and regulation of neural circuit function, but they change in Alzheimer’s disease and instead become damaging.

AstronauTx and the UCL DDI have an ongoing drug discovery collaboration to develop new medicines that reset the behaviour of astrocytes.

Co-founder Professor Paul Whiting (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology) said: “This funding will enable AstronauTx to accelerate their drug discovery projects towards testing in patients, with the ultimate aim of finding new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.”

In July 2023, AstronauTx announced a partnership with Saniona, a Danish biotechnology company, to identify new treatments by modulating a novel, undisclosed ion channel target. In September 2023, AstronauTx was awarded an Innovate UK grant to fund preclinical work on one of its programmes.

Dr Ruth McKernan, Co-founder and Chair of AstronauTx, said: “We now know that the processes causing Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases are modifiable.  Progress towards a compendium of new drugs against these devastating diseases is thankfully well underway. Our treatments will be oral drugs, applicable across multiple neurodegenerative conditions, and additive with mechanisms that are currently in late-stage development.”

The Series A financing was led by the Novartis Venture Fund, plus several global venture investors including Brandon Capital, Bristol Myers Squibb, EQT Life Sciences investing from the LSP Dementia Fund, and MPM Capital with participation from the Dementia Discovery Fund.

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