SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Nov. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- CODA Biotherapeutics, Inc., a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing a chemogenetic gene therapy platform to treat intractable neurological diseases, today announced it has closed an extension to its Series A financing round, bringing the total raised to $34 million. Existing investor Versant Ventures led the financing and was joined by existing investors MPM Capital and Astellas Venture Management. The new financing will help CODA advance its lead candidates in the initial core therapeutic areas of chronic neuropathic pain and focal epilepsy, and fuel further progress of the company's platform to generate leads for new programs and applications.
"CODA's broadly applicable platform holds great promise to provide relief to the millions of people living with intractable neurological diseases like chronic neuropathic pain and focal epilepsy, through the use of innovative techniques in gene therapy," said Michael Narachi, President and Chief Executive Officer, CODA. "We appreciate the belief in our vision from our investors and advisors, which has fueled tremendous progress over the last year. This additional funding will advance our research and development program toward human clinical trials where we hope to demonstrate transformative results for patients."
"Since coming out of stealth mode last September, the CODA team has made tremendous progress in developing its gene therapy program that is tunable, durable and highly selective, which allows for better efficacy and safety with fewer off-target effects. CODA's platform holds great promise to significantly transform how we treat challenging conditions and disorders for which new therapeutic options are greatly needed," added Tom Woiwode, Ph.D., managing director at Versant Ventures and CODA Chairman.
CODA's chemogenetic platform aims to control the activity of neurons and other cells to treat diseases. With chemogenetics, the goal is to modify a target cell population using gene therapy to express a tunable "switch" protein. Cells modified with the "switch" can be activated or inactivated in a dose-dependent manner by a subsequently administered small molecule therapeutic, an effect that should only occur in the modified cells.
First Applications of the CODA Platform: Chronic Neuropathic Pain and Focal Epilepsy
More than 19 million Americans live with chronic neuropathic pain. Current pharmacological therapies such as opioids, anticonvulsants, tricyclic anti-depressants and ion channel inhibitors provide little relief while having significant side effects and a potential for addiction. Nerve stimulation therapies require batteries and wires that need maintenance and carry a risk of infections and other complications. Surgeries that destroy pathological neurons are a last resort and can have permanent adverse effects on the central and peripheral nervous system function.
Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic neurological diseases and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, affects more than 65 million people around the world of which 3.4 million are in the U.S. Epilepsy is characterized by unpredictable seizures and the term "focal" epilepsy is used to describe seizures that initiate from a specific location in the brain, typically in one hemisphere. Focal epilepsy represents approximately 60 percent of all epilepsy (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes). According to the World Health Organization, recurrent seizures disrupt normal brain functions, lead to neuronal loss, and result in cognitive and emotional deficits. Patients suffer from stigmatization, social isolation, combined with disability, educational underachievement, and poor employment outcomes. The Epilepsy Foundation estimates that one-third of people with epilepsy live with uncontrollable seizures because no available treatments are effective.
CODA is developing engineered neurotransmitter receptors that are activated exclusively by orally bioavailable drugs to control the activity of neurons responsible for neurological disorders such as chronic neuropathic pain and focal epilepsy. The gene encoding the receptor is planned for delivery to dysfunctional neurons by viral vectors that are optimized for robust and targeted gene transfer. Standard neurosurgical procedures can be used to administer these viral vectors directly to the neurons to be controlled. Once expressed in the target cells, the engineered receptor can be activated by the drug to modulate neuronal activity. This enables the selective, tunable and reversible regulation of the receptor – and hence cellular activity – based on the dosing regimen of the drug. CODA's technology uses receptors that have been engineered to have exquisite sensitivity to the pharmacological activator, and therefore should dramatically limit off-target side effects that plague many pharmaceutical treatments.
About CODA Biotherapeutics
CODA Biotherapeutics, Inc., is a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing an innovative gene therapy platform to treat many disorders and diseases. The company is using a revolutionary chemogenetics-based technology to modulate the activity of pathological cells. CODA is located in South San Francisco, CA. For more information, please visit www.codabiotherapeutics.com.
SOURCE CODA Biotherapeutics, Inc.