PROVIDENCE – MindImmune Therapeutics Inc. will receive $500,000 in seed funding from Slater Technology Fund to support the drug discovery venture’s launch.
MindImmune Therapeutics is treating central nervous system diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, as well as pain and psychiatric disorders, by developing drugs targeting the immune system.
“Research advances over the past decade illuminate the critical importance of neuroinflammation as exacerbating or causing brain disease. This ‘missing link’ opens an entirely new area for therapeutic development, and MindImmune is well positioned with the domain expertise to bring forward innovative medicines to treat a range of neurodegenerative, neurological and psychiatric disorders,” Stevin Zorn, president and CEO of MindImmune Therapeutics, said in a statement on Thursday.
The funding will support the company as it expands its collaboration with the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island, and help it establish operations within its College of Pharmacy. URI has committed office and lab space for MindImmune to accommodate the company’s initial operations, and MindImmune founders have received adjunct faculty appointments.
In addition to Zorn, veteran central nervous system drug discovery scientists and collaborators Frank Menniti, Robert Nelson and Brian Campbell joined together to form MindImmune. All four men previously worked at Pfizer Inc., a worldwide biopharmaceutical company.
Zorn, Nelson and Campbell also worked at H. Lundbeck A/S, a Copenhagen-based global pharmaceutical company with operations in New Jersey specializing in psychiatric and neurological disorders, where they led development of a first-in-industry neuroinflammation group.
Menniti also served as co-founder and chief scientific officer of Mnemosyne Pharmaceuticals, now Luc Therapeutics Inc., a drug discovery venture focused on neuropsychiatric disorders that moved to Cambridge, Mass., last fall from Providence.
Said URI President David M. Dooley, “Investments in research and education are absolutely critical in the search for drugs and therapies to combat these devastating neurological diseases. I commend and thank the Slater Fund for providing seed funding that will allow the university and MindImmune to collaborate more closely and to physically share space on the Kingston campus. This proximity can accelerate the innovative and groundbreaking work of the Ryan Institute and advance the goal of Rhode Island becoming a center of excellence in neurological research.”
Richard G. Horan, Slater Technology Fund’s senior managing director, said MindImmune evidences a strategy known as “impact investment.”
“On the one hand, there is the potential to achieve significant and positive impact, within the Ryan Institute at the University of Rhode Island, within Rhode Island’s innovation economy more generally considered, or within the field of neuroscience-based drug discovery. At the same time, the company represents a compelling investment with opportunity for significant upside potential,” Horan said.