NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Appello Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Appello” or “Company”) today announced the completion of a $10.5 million Series A financing led by Deerfield Management and Mountain Group Partners (“MGP”). This initial investment will support the development of novel positive allosteric modulators (“PAMs”) of the metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 4 (“mGlu4”) as an innovative new treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
An estimated 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s disease, a progressive brain disorder characterized by resting tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement, as well as a battery of non-motor symptoms. It is caused by the death of nerve cells in a specific brain region that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Licensed to Appello from Vanderbilt University, these mGlu4-specific PAMs were developed at the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (“VCNDD”).
“These compounds have some unique properties and carry with them the potential to change the way Parkinson’s patients are treated,” said P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D., VCNDD Director and Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology, who will also join Appello’s Board of Directors. “I look forward to working with the team to achieve that vision.”
Craig Lindsley, Ph.D., VCNDD Director of Medical Chemistry and the William K. Warren Jr. Chair in Medicine, added, “With the support of Deerfield and Mountain Group Partners, we are well-positioned to rapidly advance our lead compound into the clinic and address an important unmet medical need.”
Dopamine replacement therapy is today’s standard treatment. It relieves some motor symptoms of the disease, but over time it causes debilitating side effects such as involuntary, uncontrollable movements, called dyskinesia. Current Parkinson’s treatments also provide a decreasing benefit to patients as the disease worsens over the long term. The mGlu4 PAMs work in a fundamentally different way from dopamine replacement therapy, instead modulating another of the brain’s neurotransmitters, glutamate. When given systemically in a preclinical model of Parkinson’s disease, they reach the brain and relieve motor symptoms, including rigidity and akinesia, a “freezing” of certain motor muscles.
Brian Laden, Ph.D., the Appello’s President and COO, stated, “Our focus is on bringing a much-needed novel therapy to Parkinson’s patients. The support and expertise of our board and investors will help make that goal a reality.”
In addition to Dr. Conn and Dr. Laden, the Appello’s Board of Directors includes Joe Cook, Jr., Managing Director of MGP, who will serve as Executive Chairman; Vaughn Bryson, the former President and CEO at Eli Lilly; along with Howie Furst, MD and William Slattery, both Partners at Deerfield.
Mr. Slattery, who led the investment on behalf of Deerfield, stated, “We are pleased to be partnering with the Appello team to develop a novel way to improve the lives of Parkinson’s patients while also continuing to strengthen the Deerfield relationship with Vanderbilt.”
Alan Bentley, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Transfer at Vanderbilt commented that, “Vanderbilt is unique among U.S. universities in its ability to discover and develop new therapeutics pre-clinically, and strong partners like Appello make it possible for these discoveries to advance clinically and impact patients’ lives. It is genuinely exciting to see such prominent scientific players committing to this essential drug development program in the Nashville area, together with such distinguished investment partners.”
About Appello Pharmaceuticals
Appello Pharmaceuticals is a Nashville, TN based preclinical-stage company focused on advancing novel positive allosteric modulators of mGlu4 for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Deerfield is an investment management firm committed to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy.
For more information, please visit www.deerfield.com.
About Mountain Group Partners
Mountain Group Partners is a venture capital firm focused on seed and early stage investing in life sciences and technology sectors. MGP is led by a team of seasoned entrepreneurs and operators. To learn more about Mountain Group Partners, please visit www.mtngp.com.