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In the latest edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at 712 North, exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging San Francisco - based stealth biotech startup. To accomplish this, we will give a business overview of their current operations, summarize their outsourcing needs, map out their development goals and decision-makers, and highlight their current strategies for capturing innovation. If you haven’t already read our other blogs on new biotech startups, be sure to check them out here.
712 North Inc., an early stage pharmaceutical company focused on innovative personalized mitochondrial medicines for patients with Alzheimer's, cancer, glaucoma, cardiovascular diseases, as well as other age‐related diseases.
712 North does have a simple website with some information and links to their social media profiles, but overall we still had to do some research on our own to get the real picture of their current pipeline, activities, and on-going research efforts. The business was registered in Delaware as a C-Corp on 5/2/2017. Their principal place of business, as noted on the business entity search, is found at 1814 23rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107, as well as being listed as a resident with the University of California’s QB3 accelerator facility. They moved into their new QB3 lab in late March 2019, at the UC Berkeley QB3 accelerator location.
QB3 is the University of California’s accelerator hub for innovation and entrepreneurship specifically for life sciences startups. The institute supports UC researchers and empowers Bay Area entrepreneurs to launch startup companies and partner with the biotech industry. With five incubators, multiple locations, two seed-stage venture capital firms, and a special initiative in medical devices, through the UCSF Rosenman Institute, QB3 helps early biotech startups create high-value jobs and brings over $750 million into the Bay Area each year. 712 North primarily operates at the QB3 facility, and our current estimates show they generate $50,118 in annual revenues, and employ approximately 3 people at this location.
The information on the outsourcing needs of 712 North is few and far between, but their recent SBIR Phase 1 grant is a good sign they have some capital to play around with for drug discovery, as well as outsourcing early preclinical work. The company is very early in the development stage and they will be working through the usual steps for a while before reaching the IND stage with potential products. Their research pipeline will consist of developing modulators of the dynamic mitochondrial network to produce therapeutics for an array of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer, glaucoma, and cardiovascular disease. The mechanism of action also ties the biology to rare pediatric indications with unmet medical need. 712 North claims they will be able to leverage these therapeutics for combating orphan diseases through a fast-to-market strategy. Overall, their goal is to eventually become a global leader in innovative personalized mitochondrial medicine.
We think business development teams in the realms of pilot scale CMOs, preclinical CROs with experience in Alzheimer's and cancerous animal model development, and bioanalytical service providers with expertise in Alzheimer’s and cancer research should definitely contact 712 North for potential outsourcing work in the near future.
712 North’s Pipeline and R&D Focus
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.7 million Americans are living with the disease, a number to reach almost 14 million by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and one in three seniors will die with dementia. The costs associated with Alzheimer’s mounted to $232 billion in 2017 and are expected to grow to as much as $1.1 trillion by 2050.  Unfortunately we still have no therapies available to reverse, halt or even slow down the rate of neurodegeneration in patients with Alzheimer’s, making it quite a scary condition. All of the current medications only treat the symptoms of the disease, such as memory loss, confusion, and anxiety, without any real therapeutic results, creating a huge unmet medical need for actual treatments. Plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are two of the well known neuropathological conditions of Alzheimer’s disease. However, this particular disease is complex and even just the body aging itself is considered a major risk factor for acquiring Alzheimer’s.
712 North was awarded an SBIR grant from NIH regarding discovery and validation of OMA1 inhibitors and the role they play in possible mitochondrial based therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease. The team at 712 North has identified a novel molecular mechanism of action that is complementary to the existing treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s disease. Their research focuses on the interplay between age-related extracellular and intracellular alterations, such as cerebrovascular changes, the formation of plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, and inflammation, and that these alterations evoke a mitochondrial stress response, which entails activation of a critical protease. This protease regulates a rate-limiting step of the apoptotic cell death cascade, which results in outer membrane permeabilization and cytochrome c release. 
For phase 1 of their SBIR grant, the 712 North team will initiate a drug discovery program for inhibitors of this protease. These agents will be useful tool compounds for in vivo proof-of- concept studies. They have identified a novel point for medical intervention for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The overall goal of this grant proposal is to identify the first molecules that can intervene at this focal point. They will validate these compounds and ensure they are specific and safe for phase 1, which are usually the first steps in the overall complicated and enduring drug development process.
These validated compounds will then form the basis for a drug development program in phase 2 of this grant. If the proposed research is successful, they will be able to progress with the pre-clinical development in phase 2 of this grant application, by conducting safety and toxicology studies as well as pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics studies. Once an early pipeline is developed, they will be optimizing their proposed drug candidates and launching successful clinical trials while building strategic relationships with outsourcing partners. Eventually, these drugs will be tested in patients to see whether they really can stop or at least slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Dr. Marcel V. Alavi - founded 712 North in 2016 based on his unique insights into the mitochondrial biology of overall health and disease. Dr. Alavi is also an accomplished inventor and has co-authored more than 20 peer-reviewed scientific publications. He holds a Ph.D. with summa cum laude from the Eberhard-Karls University Tübingen in Germany and completed postdoctoral training at UCSF, where his research centered on stress response pathways in the eye. He founded two early stage biotech companies and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Autosomal Dominant Optic Atrophy Association, ADOAA.
Mitochondrial medicine is one of the most rapidly advancing branches in the research field. Apart from rare inherited mitochondrial diseases caused by genetic changes, mitochondrial dysfunction is implicated in many common health problems such as obesity, cancer, cardiovascular, and other age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. With that being said, there are now multiple opportunities for innovation in mitochondrial medicine, and 712 North is definitely at the forefront of that research.
In addition to their grant research, 712 North is also looking into using targeted OMA1 therapies for diseases such as cancer. In a recent scientific publication from the International Journal of Cancer in November 2019, Dr. Alavi cites his research about using their mitochondrial platform to produce future therapies to combat cancer. In the article, Dr. Alavi goes into detail about OMA1 mechanisms and the proposed role it plays in slowing and stopping tumor cell development and subsequent resistance to chemotherapies.
We think that 712 North is on track to create some major breakthroughs in the industry over the next few years. Be sure to keep them on your contact list and look out for our next edition in this series coming soon!
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