This branch of our Sponsor Atlas series focuses on young pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are in early stages or stealth mode. In the next edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at MedaRed, exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging San Francisco - based stealth biotech company. 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.
MedaRed, Inc. is a stealth biotech startup focused on discovering molecules that reduce neuroinflammation and the subsequent damage to neurons, by specifically developing new therapeutics targeting fibrin.
MedaRed does not currently have any registered trademarks or operating website, so we had to do some investigating on our own to gather clues about their research and potential products. MedaRed’s principal place of business, as noted on the Sec Form D, is located at 1650 Owens Street, Suite 259, San Francisco, CA 94158. This is also the location of the Gladstone Institutes, an independent and nonprofit biomedical research organization affiliated with UCSF. The business was registered in Delaware as a C-Corp with a filing date on 10/17/2016, and it was incorporated in CA on 11/14/2016, with a registered agent address through CORP2000 in California.
MedaRed just closed a seed round on July 8, 2019, and announced the completion of $6.5 million in seed financing, with the round being led by the Dementia Discovery Fund and Dolby Family Ventures. In addition to the recent seed round funding, MedaRed also received research funding up to $330,000 from the National MS Society through its Fast Forward program to further develop and “humanize” an antibody that targets fibrin, by making it more similar to human antibodies and more suitable for use as a potential therapeutic in patients with MS. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of around $26,000 and employs a staff of approximately 1-2. At this point in time, the revenues aren’t huge for this early startup, but considering their substantial amount of funding recently, we are expecting to see a lot of business activities from them in the near future.
While there isn’t much online information about their outsourcing needs, the recent seed round funding means that MedaRed will have plenty of money to spend on their outsourced research and drug development expenses. MedaRed will use the seed financing to develop these molecules into therapeutics that target fibrin for people with diseases that have a significant unmet clinical need. The initial focus of the company will be on Alzheimer's disease (AD) and multiple sclerosis (MS). Even though the company is in a very early stage in development, we can definitely expect to see an increased need for outsourcing activities in the near future. While they begin working through the usual steps to reach IND, we think business development teams in the realms of large molecule CMOs, custom antibody development and manufacturing services, and preclinical CROs specializing in animal model development for neuroinflammation should have MedRed on their radar over the next few years.
MedaRed’s primary research goal is to discover and develop novel, effective, disease-modifying therapeutics for dementia and CNS related disorders. MedaRed's key technology was invented by its co-founder Dr. Katerina Akassoglou, who discovered molecules that reduce neuroinflammation and the subsequent damage to neurons. Dr. Akassoglou and colleagues discovered that fibrin, a blood-clotting factor, is implicated in the toxic inflammation that damages these neurons in neurological diseases including AD and MS.
Dr. Akassoglou has led a series of studies to uncover the role of a blood-clotting protein called fibrin, which "leaks" from the damaged blood-brain barrier and gets deposited in MS brain lesions. Her team showed that fibrin deposits hinder natural nervous system repair and can activate immune cells in the brain known as microglia, triggering inflammation and nerve damage. Using an antibody that inhibits fibrin, her team has been able to decrease the activation of microglia, and reduce subsequent damage to nerve fibers in mice.  The recent funding will enable the company to further develop this particular antibody that has shown promise in preclinical studies as a potential treatment to protect the nervous system from MS damage. The current focus of MedaRed’s pipeline will be optimizing these drug candidates and launching successful clinical trials while building strategic relationships with outsourcing partners.
MedaRed is seeking to capture innovation and originality in scientific research relevant to multiple sclerosis, with emphasis on the impact and potential of the research to lead to pathways for the treatment and cure for MS and AD. And with their innovative approach to targeting fibrin, their therapeutics have the potential to protect the nervous system in both early and late phases of MS, of particular importance to people living with MS disability and progression.  Noting on MedRed’s early progress, CSO Jeffrey Stavenhagen, Ph.D. said, "Fibrin is a common thread in various diseases with blood leaks and chronic inflammation in the brain and the periphery. With support from DDF and Dolby Family Ventures, there is an opportunity for MedaRed to develop a new class of therapeutics for numerous diseases with vascular damage including Alzheimer's disease.”
Using their innovative approach into fibrin research, Dr. Akassoglou and her team could be in a paramount position to achieve neuroprotection in diverse disorders without shutting down protective immune responses or blood clotting. The next step will be to make a version of the antibody that can be used in human clinical trials. Given that the treatment targets an immune response and a blood clotting factor, Akassoglou cautions, however, that tests monitoring the immune system and blood clotting will be important during their upcoming clinical evaluations.
If you would like a simple solution for keeping an eye on drug sponsor companies, like MedaRed Inc., without relying on a database and generic lists of leads each week, we at Zymewire are here to help. Reach out today, and stay tuned for the next installment of the Sponsor Atlas: Discovering new Biotechs. If you enjoy these articles, please feel free to give them a share through the social links below!