LucyTx bags $12.5m to advance mitochondrial treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Linking neurodegenerative disease to dysfunctional mitochondria, startup is developing small-molecule treatments and diagnostic biomarkers.

Longevity biotech Lucy Therapeutics has raised an additional $12.5 million in funding to advance the development of therapies for neurodegenerative diseases that target mitochondrial dysfunction. Based in Waltham, Massachusetts, the company’s approach integrates mitochondrial, environmental and genetic factors to identify unique drug targets and develop small-molecule treatments and diagnostic biomarkers.

Widely known as the ‘power generators’ within our cells, mitochondria also dictate many of a cell’s key functions, and their dysfunction has been linked to a range of age-related diseases. LucyTx was founded on the hypothesis that diseases with rate-limiting steps involving mitochondrial dysfunction can potentially be treated by modulating key mitochondrial protein targets.

The company is advancing drug discovery programs against Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Rett syndrome, a rare condition affecting 1 in 10,000 females. Having identified lead compounds, defined target engagements and pinpointed disease biomarkers for Parkinson’s and Rett syndrome, LucyTx plans to file Investigational New Drug (IND) applications for both by early next year.

Founder and CEO Dr Amy Ripka said that meaningful progress against complex diseases requires embracing “non-traditional methods.”

“LucyTx is doing just that, identifying new drug targets based on a deep understanding of the chemical and biological interplay at work in disease, and ultimately linking neurodegenerative disease to dysfunctional mitochondria,” she added. “This latest funding will advance our work pioneering a new class of therapeutics designed to address mitochondrial dysfunction and provide potentially curative treatments for people suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Rett syndrome.”

The investment round was led by Engine Ventures and Safar Partners, with new contributions from Bill Gates, Parkinson’s UK, and others. The new funding includes a $2 million non-dilutive grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and brings the company’s total funding to over $36 million.

“The LucyTx team is creating a cutting-edge platform to identify drug targets by understanding mitochondria’s impact,” said Dr Mike Poole, Senior Advisor to Gates Ventures (the private office of Bill Gates). “This platform is already enhancing their drug discovery programs, and I’m excited to support their Alzheimer’s research.”

READ MORE: Do mitochondria hold the key to a Parkinson’s breakthrough?

Photographs courtesy of Lucy Therapeutics