Inflazome secures $1m research grant from the Michael J Fox Foundation

25 Mar 2019592 Views

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Hollywood actor Michael J Fox. Image: drserg/Depositphotos

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Investment in Dublin and Cambridge start-up to support development of a brain imaging probe.

Irish and UK start-up Inflazome has been awarded funding in excess of $1m from the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF).

“The Michael J Fox Foundation is a fantastic organisation with a passionate commitment to new science, science translation and candidate therapies for Parkinson’s,” said Dr Matt Cooper, co-founder and CEO of Inflazome.

‘An imaging tool to visualise neuroinflammation may help investigate Parkinson’s onset and progression as well as evaluate new treatments that could alter the course of the disease’
–  JAMIE EBERLING

“We are fully aligned in our shared goal to help patients with Parkinson’s and other debilitating neurodegenerative diseases for which there are inadequate therapies and no cures. Their support will help us advance and hopefully validate our disruptive approach to diagnose and then treat patients by focusing on neuroinflammation.”

Non-invasive imaging

Four men with one holding medical model of brain.

From left: Inflazome’s Dr Manus Rogan, chair; Dr Matt Cooper, co-founder and CEO; Prof Luke O’Neill, co-founder and chief scientific officer; and Dr Jeremy Skillington, vice-president of business development. Image: Nick Bradshaw

The MJFF, which was founded by the Back to the Future trilogy actor in 2000, is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s through funded research and ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with the disease today.

Inflazome is developing orally available drugs to address clinical unmet needs in inflammatory diseases by targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome, which is believed to drive chronic inflammation associated with the progression of many neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease.

The grant will fund the development of a NLRP3-specific positron emission tomography (PET) tracer to allow non-invasive imaging of inflammasome-driven inflammation in the brain. The PET tracer will also help Inflazome to determine what doses are needed for patients in larger clinical trials in the future.

It comes on the heels of a successful Series B financing of €40m last November led by Forbion Capital Partners with participation from Longitude Capital as well as Series A investors Fountain Healthcare Partners and Novartis Venture Fund.

Headquartered in Dublin and with offices in Cambridge, Inflazome was founded in 2016 by leading academics Dr Matt Cooper of the University of Queensland and Prof Luke O’Neill from Trinity College Dublin following a highly productive joint collaboration.

“An imaging tool to visualise neuroinflammation may help investigate Parkinson’s onset and progression as well as evaluate new treatments that could alter the course of the disease,” said Dr Jamie Eberling, director of research programmes at MJFF.

“Our foundation is investing in this research due to the significant potential impact on drug development and patient lives.”

Hollywood actor Michael J Fox. Image: drserg/Depositphotos

John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist who served as editor of Siliconrepublic.com for 17 years.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com