Satori Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on drugs for Alzheimer disease, has raised $15 million in a new financing round. The firm is developing potent, selective modulators of gamma secretase (γ-secretase) that selectively reduce the production of amyloid beta (Aß) 42 while sparing other gamma substrates. This selectivity and expected safety profile provide the opportunity for Satori’s lead compounds to treat patients in early-stage disease.
Given its central role in the amyloid hypothesis, inhibition of γ-secretase has the potential to be a disease-modifying and possibly preventive treatment for AD. However, nonselective inhibitors of γ-secretase carry mechanism-based safety concerns as they also prevent processing of other physiologically relevant γ-secretase substrates including Notch. Recently, a nonselective γ-secretase inhibitor, LY450139, was discontinued in Phase III development because of such nonspecific adverse events.
Satori says that its medicinal chemistry and in vitro screening assays have led to the identification of novel, potent small molecules with confirmed modulating γ-secretase activity. These compounds display the selectivity and drug-like properties required for the successful, chronic dosing of CNS-acting drugs targeting γ-secretase. Satori says that studies have demonstrated that its class of gamma-secretase modulators (GSMs) achieve a reduction in Aβ42 levels without altering total amyloid beta levels in cell lines and animal models of the disease.
The company intends to file an IND on the lead modulator of gamma-secretase in 2012. Satori, which was established in 2005, says that it has previously raised $25 million. With today’s round of financing, the company also announced that Donald Hayden was elected as chairman of the board of directors and that David Schnell, M.D., of Prospect Ventures and Stephen Muniz of PureTech Ventures were appointed as new members of Satori’s board.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates that Satori is taking the next step in its growth as a company,” says Jeffrey Ives, Ph.D., CEO. “Until now we have been quietly validating the scientific approach behind our lead compounds, which are orally available, highly selective, and what we believe to be the best in the industry pipeline. This round of funding and the addition of three great advisors in Don, David, and Steve position us nicely as we prepare to begin clinical work on those lead compounds.”