Vandria emerges from stealth with $20.6m and clinic-ready lead candidate

Series A financing led by ND Capital set to drive CNS clinical program and mitochondrial therapeutics platform.

Vandria SA, a company developing mitochondrial therapeutics, including first-in-class small molecule mitophagy inducers, today emerged from stealth with the announcement of its successful Series A fundraise. The $20.6 million (CHF 18m) round was led by ND Capital together with a small syndicate of HNW private investors.

Longevity.Technology: Vandria was spun out of Amazentis in 2021 with backing by ND Capital to develop first-in-class small molecule mitophagy inducers against a novel target to rejuvenate cells and treat age-related and chronic diseases. Backed by 15 years of discovery science, Vandria is rapidly developing its platform and portfolio, and its lead program, VNA-318, a patent-protected, brain-penetrant, first-in-class mitophagy inducer, is on track to enter clinical trials in Europe in Q2 2024. The company is also developing mitophagy-inducing small molecules to address muscle, lung and liver diseases. A separate program targets ferroptosis, a form of cell death implicated in neurodegenerative diseases and ischemia reperfusion injury

The company’s management team includes senior pharma executive Klaus Dugi, MD as CEO, mitochondrial expert Penelope Andreux, PhD as CSO, and life sciences entrepreneur Peter Harboe-Schmidt, MSc, MBA, as Head of BD & Finance.

Inducing mitophagy

Vandria discovers and develops inhibitors of a novel target which results in the induction of mitophagy – the selective removal and replacement of damaged mitochondria – and anti-inflammatory effects; the target has strong genetic links to several human diseases.

In pre-clinical studies, Vandria’s lead candidate, VNA-318, has been consistently shown to acutely improve memory and learning, and to have strong disease-modifying effects in models of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Toxicity studies have demonstrated VNA-318 to have a wide safety window.

VNA-318 targets patients with early-stage CNS and neurodegenerative disorders to treat cognitive impairment and limit memory loss progression. The global market for Alzheimer’s disease alone is estimated at $7.6 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12% to 2035, driven by an aging population, improved diagnosis and a growing awareness and understanding of the condition and its implications [1].

A new therapeutic approach

Penelope Andreux, CSO of Vandria, said: “The potential of mitophagy as a new therapeutic approach for tackling CNS disorders is increasingly recognised by the pharmaceutical industry. Our lead candidate, VNA-318, has neuroprotective and anti-neuroinflammatory effects and has been demonstrated to improve cognition in disease-relevant models. We believe it has the potential to impact a range of CNS indications and we look forward to starting clinical development in 2024.”

Klaus Dugi, CEO of Vandria, said: “ND Capital has been a highly supportive investor through our startup phase and our Series A financing. 2024 will be a transformative year for Vandria as it becomes a clinical stage company with a novel small molecule designed to address cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration – areas of critical patient need in an aging world population.

“The company has made rapid progress in the past two years and has an exciting future. We look forward to welcoming additional investors to support the further clinical development of VNA-318 and deliver on the wider potential of Vandria’s mitophagy platform to treat age-related and chronic diseases.”

Dani Bach, Partner, ND Capital, and director of Vandria said: “Targeting mitochondria is emerging as a very hot area in drug development as evidenced by several recent M&A deals and VC financings. With Vandria’s potential first-in-class drugs for a target that has been validated in humans, we think we are ahead of the pack. We have worked closely with the company to assemble a world-class leadership team and attract high-calibre advisors and additional investors. It exemplifies the strength of our company-building model.”

Photos courtesy of Vandria