MindImmune Therapeutics closes $500K seed round led by Slater Fund

MINDIMMUNE THERAPEUTICS is a South Kingstown-based pharmaceutical startup. Above, the MindImmune Therapeutics lab at the University of Rhode Island. /COURTESY MINDIMMUNE THERAPEUTICS
MINDIMMUNE THERAPEUTICS is a South Kingstown-based pharmaceutical startup. Commerce RI awarded the company a $50,000 Innovation Voucher grant to partner with the University of Rhode Island and establish animal models of brain immune system dysfunction, as a means to screen for new Alzheimer’s disease therapies. Above, the MindImmune Therapeutics lab at the University of Rhode Island. /COURTESY MINDIMMUNE THERAPEUTICS

PROVIDENCE – MindImmune Therapeutics Inc., a pharmaceutical startup, closed its second seed round of $500,000 on Monday.

The round was led by a $250,000 investment from Slater Technology Fund, a publicly funded venture capital firm in Providence. MindImmune, based out of the University of Rhode Island, is developing drugs to target the immune system as a means to treat central nervous system diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s disease, pain and psychiatric disorders.

“MindImmune brings together a team of world-class drug discovery scientists pioneering a fundamentally new approach to the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases,” said Richard G. Horan, senior managing director at Slater.

The funding brings the Slater Fund’s total investment in the startup to $750,000, as it led a $500,000 seed round last year after the startup launched.

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CEO Stevin Zorn, along with Frank Menniti, Robert Nelson and Brian Campbell, are the scientists heading the research. Zorn says new genetic findings indicate that the immune system is a key cause of brain disease and has been the missing link to developing new approaches to neurodegenerative disease.

“Reducing neuroinflammation heralds significant breakthroughs in the treatment of brain disease, much as targeting immune activity is revolutionizing the treatment of cancers,” he said in a statement.

MindImmune since launching in 2016 has made a splash in the local startup community, and last November received a $50,000 grant through the state-funded Innovation Vouchers program.

The venture has partnered with the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience, and Horan is optimistic the relationship could inspire a model for more public-private partnerships for startups in Rhode Island.

“We are committed to supporting the team in the launch of their new venture and could not be more pleased with the support provided by the University of Rhode Island and our collaborators within the Ryan Institute. This alliance has great potential,” he said.

Eli Sherman is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Sherman@PBN.com, or follow him on Twitter @Eli_Sherman.