ProJenX Launches to Advance Novel, Targeted Therapies for ALS and Other Brain Diseases
NEW YORK, Feb. 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — ProJenX, a New York City-based, clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel, brain-penetrant therapies targeting biologically-defined pathways for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other debilitating brain diseases, launched today. A $5.1M seed financing was led by Medical Excellence Capital, which created ProJenX in collaboration with Project ALS, a leading nonprofit organization committed to ALS research, and with renowned researchers at Columbia University.
ProJenX will use proceeds from the financing to fund early clinical development of its lead asset, prosetin, for the treatment of ALS, expand its leadership team, and advance additional preclinical programs in its pipeline. Prosetin, an oral, brain-penetrant, MAP4 kinase (MAP4K) inhibitor targeting endoplasmic reticulum stress, is the first investigational drug developed in a collaboration between researchers at the Project ALS Therapeutics Core—a drug discovery and development program led by researchers at Columbia’s Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease and its Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center—and researchers from the Departments of Pathology & Cell Biology, Biological Sciences, and Chemistry at Columbia University.
ProJenX will build on the efforts initiated by Columbia and Project ALS to advance prosetin through ALS clinical trials with urgency, humanity, and scientific rigor. The company is named in honor of Project ALS founder Jenifer Estess, who was diagnosed with ALS at age 35. Valerie Estess, Project ALS Co-Founder and Director of Research, and ProJenX Co-Founder and Board Director, commented, “Since 1998, Project ALS has led aggressive, collaborative research to unlock the mysteries of ALS and the brain—the body’s most complex organ. We are immensely excited that ProJenX will take on the critical task of translating these hard-won discoveries to people with ALS—beginning with prosetin.”
Erin Fleming, Co-Founder and Senior Director of Operations at ProJenX, said, “Prosetin was developed out of a decades-long collaboration between the labs of Hynek Wichterle and Brent R. Stockwell at Columbia University and Project ALS to build more predictive models of ALS—and then use them to identify better treatments. We have seen promising effects of prosetin in a range of laboratory models and are hopeful for its potential to improve the lives of many people with ALS and other devastating neurological conditions.”
ProJenX’s seed financing was led by Medical Excellence Capital, LLC, an early-stage life sciences venture fund that combines a proprietary global network of leading physician-scientists with a team of experienced investment professionals, company builders, and operators. Eric Heil, ProJenX Interim CEO and Medical Excellence Capital Managing Partner, commented, “Medical Excellence is delighted to have played a central role in the formation of ProJenX. Patients with ALS desperately need new therapies. We believe that the patient-specific, cell-based discovery platform at the heart of ProJenX’s approach is an exciting opportunity for the creation of transformative neuroscience medicines.”
About Project ALS
Founded in 1998 by Jenifer Estess, her family and friends, Project ALS identifies and funds the most promising scientific and medical research that will lead to the first effective treatments and a cure for ALS. Project ALS recruits the world’s best scientists and doctors to work together—rationally and aggressively—to develop a better understanding of the ALS disease process and, in parallel, better therapeutic strategies. To learn more about Project ALS, visit projectals.org.
About Medical Excellence Capital, LLC
Medical Excellence Capital is an early-stage life-science venture capital firm that combines accomplished investment professionals and operators with a proprietary national medical network platform to create the most unique venture firm in life sciences. MEC deploys precision capital to nurture and advance the precision health innovations that solve the biggest, most complex medical problems. MEC has extensive experience investing in areas such as drug discovery, artificial intelligence, cell and gene therapy, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, and precision medicine. Visit www.medexcelcap.com for further information.
ProJenX is a clinical stage biotechnology company with novel, brain-penetrant, targeted therapies to address untreatable brain diseases, with an initial focus on ALS. ProJenX was created out of a long-term research collaboration between Project ALS and researchers at Columbia University to rapidly develop and commercialize its lead therapy candidate, prosetin, for people with ALS. At the heart of ProJenX’s approach is an innovative patient-specific cell-based drug discovery platform that can be leveraged for research and drug development for ALS and other untreatable brain diseases. For more information, visit projenx.com.
About The Project ALS Therapeutics Core at Columbia University
The Project ALS Therapeutics Core at Columbia aims to bring the first meaningful treatments for ALS from the lab bench to patients, rationally and efficiently. Under the scientific leadership of Drs. Serge Przedborski, Neil Shneider, and Hynek Wichterle, the Core integrates seven research groups—clinical research; lipidomics; gene therapy; antibody development; in vitro screening; in vivo evaluation; and in vivo electrophysiology—at Columbia’s Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease and Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center that engage in a world-class, patient-focused approach to ALS therapy development.