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2022-05-10| Funding

Aspen Neuroscience Rakes in $147.5 Million for Parkinson’s Cell Therapy Development

by Reed Slater
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San Diego-based Aspen Neuroscience announced on May 9 that it received $147.5 million in Series B funding to advance its personalized cell therapy technology aimed at treating Parkinson’s Disease. GV, Lyfe Capital, and Revelation Partners co-led the most recent round of financing, bringing in several new investors and raising the total amount invested in the company to over $220 million since its founding in 2018.

 

Aspen Neuroscience’s iPSC Autologous Cell Therapy

 

Aspen Neuroscience is creating the first induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)-derived autologous (the patient’s own) neuron replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease. The company’s lead product, ANDP001, is currently undergoing investigational new drug-enabling studies for sporadic Parkinson’s. 

President and CEO Damien McDevitt, Ph.D., said, “This company was founded by a visionary team of scientists and patient advocates, who envisioned a day when personalized cell replacement could be used to target neurodegenerative diseases.”

Parkinson’s affects over 10 million people worldwide as the second-most prevalent neurodegenerative disease. A loss of dopamine neurons in the brain causes life-altering motor complications in patients. Aspen says that its technology has the potential to replace dopamine neurons and reconstruct neural networks. 

A simple skin biopsy is taken, then evaluated for effectiveness using AI-based genomic tools. Aspen says its proprietary AI-based genomic tools allow for faster, more cost-effective, and more reproducible results that could allow for a more scalable product in the future. Aspen is currently planning clinical trials for the future but has yet to test on humans. 

Related article: Singapore’s RVAC Medicines Raises $140 Million for mRNA Ambitions

 

Head to Head Competition

 

Aspen Neuroscience’s main competitor is Bayer, which has been working with BlueRock Therapeutics to develop dopamine neuron replacement to treat patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Since Bayer bought BlueRock in 2019, its leading cell therapy, DA01, has started Phase 1 clinical trials after receiving Fast Track Designation from the FDA. 

BlueRock announced in January that the first cohort in Phase 1 of the trial closed out after patients received a bilateral surgery implanting dopaminergic neurons in the brain. BlueRock did not report any adverse effects during the first cohort, and the second cohort is still in the recruitment phase in the United States and Canada. 

The main difference between Aspen’s technology and BlueRock is Aspen’s use of autologous neuron replacement therapy. This means that Aspen will use tissue from the patient to replace dopamine neurons. BlueRock uses proprietary technology to engineer iPSCs into new authentic cells to perform specific functions. In the case of Parkinson’s, the iPSCs are programmed to replace dopamine neurons in the patient.

Though the end goal is the same, the path to get there differs, and only one company can reach the finish line first. BlueRock appears to have the advantage, being in Phase 1 trials backed by a Fast Track Designation. Still, Aspen Neuroscience seems to be quickly gaining momentum, especially with its most recent round of funding. 

Related article: Pheast Gets a $76 Million Series A to Feed Pipeline of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

 

Raising Funds Fast

 

Aspen Neuroscience made its funding debut in December 2019 with $6.5 million in seed funding. In April 2020, Aspen received $70 million in Series A funding, setting a precedent for the next round. GV, Lyfe Capital, and Revelation Partners co-led Series B, which saw additional new investors, Newton Investment Management, EDBI, LifeForce Capital, Medical Excellence Capital Partners, Mirae Asset Capital, NS Investment, and others, which totaled $147.5 Million. 

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