AmorChem invests in a potential treatment for cerebral amyloid angiopathy and Alzheimer’s disease
Attacking central nervous system diseases using the neuroprotective effects of the innate immune system
Montreal, June 4, 2020 – AmorChem is proud to announce a new investment in a research program hailing from Université Laval and the Research Center of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec. The venture capital fund identified the opportunity in close collaboration with SOVAR, a group active in the promotion of university research. AmorChem will invest in the invention of Dr. Jean Gosselin and Dr. Serge Rivest, which targets NOD2, a key regulator of immune and inflammatory responses.
“Dr. Rivest, who will be leading the project, is particularly interested in the role of innate immunity in central nervous system (“CNS”) diseases. His previous work in this field, and more specifically as it relates to NOD2, a receptor expressed by myeloid cells (including monocytes and microglia), has demonstrated that NOD2 agonism has striking implications for certain functions of monocytes. He showed that NOD2 activation in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease has a strong effect on the clearance of circulating beta amyloid via blood vessels of the brain. He leverages an imaging tool that allows real-time view of monocyte phagocytotic activity following treatment with an agonist of NOD2, and this catalyzed our interest for this program,” explains Inès Holzbaur, Managing Partner at AmorChem.
“Clearance of amyloid plaques and attempts at improving cognition in Alzheimer’s disease patients by various modalities have been extremely disappointing, clinically. The crucial nuance brought by Dr. Rivest is the focus on removal of beta amyloid from the perivascular space, by modulating peripheral innate immunity, rather than targeting CNS plaque formation and clearance. A small molecule able to act at the level of peripheral immunity would constitute a completely novel approach for tackling aberrant CNS biology, one which we believe would have the potential of generating a lot of interest,” says Kevin McBride, CSO and Partner at AmorChem.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a major and well-recognized unmet medical need, and innovative approaches will be required to treat it. We propose to use a related condition called cerebral amyloid angiopathy as a proof-of-concept. This angiopathy is characterized by the accumulation of beta amyloid in cerebral blood vessels, causing cognitive impairment distinct from that of Alzheimer’s disease in over 30% of those aged 65 and above, and increasing their risk of stroke. An agonist of NOD2 could eventually be very useful to treat these patients,” explains Elizabeth Douville, Managing Partner at AmorChem.
“The University offers warm congratulations to Dr. Gosselin and Dr. Rivest for the quality and relevance of their discovery. Through their work, we are one step closer to treating patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The University is also proud to be collaborating once again with AmorChem, a valuable partner in the maturation of technologies and biotechnology company creation” adds Eugénie Brouillet, Vice Rector of Research, Creation and Innovation at Université Laval.
“We are very proud of this announcement and would like to congratulate Dr. Serge Rivest whose research has shown to be most promising for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. This venture capital investment is a good illustration of SOVAR’s role as a catalyst for scientific innovation to facilitate their path to commercialization and transfer to society,” says Paule De Blois, President and CEO of SOVAR.
« This announcement demonstrates the excellence and innovation of the researchers from the CHU de Québec-Université Laval Research Center who, day after day, push forward the boundaries of science for the well-being of patients. Once again, this discovery shows the innovative character of the world class research that takes place in our center, in collaboration with major partners such as Université Laval, SOVAR and AmorChem, » concludes Martin Beaumont, CEO of the CHU de Québec-Université Laval.
AmorChem (www.amorchem.com) is a leading early stage venture capital fund launched in 2011 in Montreal. The AmorChem team utilizes its deep understanding of fundamental science to uncover its therapeutic potential and focuses its core expertise in translational research to accelerate therapeutic drug discovery and development across a broad spectrum of disease areas. The fund capitalises on both its venture capital expertise and its entrepreneurial experience to spark the creation of start-up companies and help shape them into the next generation of biotech companies. With over $85M under management, AmorChem has financed over 30 university projects and started up several biotechnology companies from the fruits of this innovative research.
About Université Laval
Driven by innovation and the pursuit of excellence, Université Laval is one of Canada’s leading research universities, ranking 7th with $404 million in research funding last year. A leader in distance education, it has more than 1,600 professors, nearly 2,200 lecturers and other academic and research staff who share their knowledge with over 43,000 students, 25% of whom are enrolled in graduate studies. The university values diversity and is proud of the members of its community, who come from 120 countries. The oldest francophone university in North America, Université Laval has so far trained more than 312,000 people who each contribute in their own way to the advancement of society. www.ulaval.ca
For almost 20 years, SOVAR’s mission has been to generate economic and social growth by accelerating the emergence, the development and the deployment of responsible technological and social innovations stemming from cutting-edge university research. SOVAR has been involved in creating over 40 businesses and over 750 jobs. SOVAR has also invested directly in more than twenty companies so far. To know more, visit : www.sovar.com
About the CHU de Québec-Université Laval
Largest French-language health research center in North America, the CHU de Québec-Université Laval Research Center gathers over 500 researchers from five hospitals. With nearly $110 M in research funding, it ranks second in Quebec and ninth in Canada according to Canada’s Top 40 Research Hospitals 2018. It has also been rated “Exceptional “by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) following its most recent evaluation, in 2018.
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