Edinburgh biotech firm launches to help patients with dementia

Epidarex Capital creates Nodthera Limited

Epidarex Capital, a Scottish-based fund which invests in early-stage, high growth life science and health technology companies, has launched a new biotech company based in Edinburgh which will focus on helping patients with a wide range of diseases, including dementia.
It has launched Nodthera Limited, which will concentrate on on the discovery and development of novel inhibitors of the ‘NLRP3 inflammasome’, based on world-class research conducted within Selvita, an international drug discovery company with offices in the UK, Boston, San Francisco, Cambridge and Krakow.
The firm says inflammasomes are large multiprotein complexes which assemble in a cell’s cytoplasm in response to environmental danger signals and are considered an essential part of an organism’s innate immune response.
Activation of an inflammasome assembly leads to the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1 and IL-18.
Over-activation of the NRLP3 inflammasome is implicated in a wide range of diseases that are a substantial burden on modern healthcare systems such as type 2 diabetes, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
Epidarex says that, until recently, the NLRP3 inflammasome has been a difficult target. But that recent advances and insights from the scientific community have renewed and re-invigorated interest in targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome.
It claims that selective inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome rather than its downstream cytokines holds great therapeutic potential.
Nodthera plans to become a key player in developing inhibitors of this protein complex.
Elizabeth Roper, PhD, a partner at Epidarex Capital, who led the deal, said: “Nodthera Limited has the potential to create first in class small molecule modulators of the NLRP3 inflammasome complex which could be a significant development in the field.
“Epidarex is delighted to be partnering with Selvita to bring this exciting science to market.
Krzysztof Brzozka, PhD, chief scientific officer at Selvita, added: “We are confident that Nodthera’s therapeutic approach is exceptional and addresses an important class of intracellular receptors implicated in variety of disorders with unmet medical needs.
“We’re excited to work with a partner such as Nodthera, who shares our vision and belief that in drug discovery joining forces and cooperation is the key to success.”
Johnston Erwin, vice president of Corporate Business Development at Eli Lilly and Company, said: “As a limited partner in the fund, we are excited to have Epidarex invest in an opportunity to accelerate the development of a novel approach in this rapidly emerging area and potentially help patients with a wide range of diseases, including dementia where Lilly has 25 years of research and development experience.”  
Epidarex Capital invests in early-stage, high growth life science and health technology companies in under-ventured markets within the UK and US.
It was created to meet the need for more sector-specific risk capital for young companies, including spin-outs from leading research universities.
The fund’s international management team has a track record of successfully partnering with top scientists and entrepreneurs to develop highly innovative products for the global healthcare market.
Selvita is a drug discovery company engaged in the research and development of breakthrough therapies primarily in the area of oncology, as well as provision of integrated drug discovery services.
It was established in 2007 and currently employs over 340 people, including 111 PhDs, with extensive experience in the area of life sciences.
Selvita has several projects at early or late discovery stage and is expected to move its first candidates to the clinic in 2016.
Drug discovery clients of Selvita include more than 50 large and medium-sized pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies from the USA and Europe.
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