New Spinal Cord Injury Repair Company Launched
Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed. • Fri, August 18th, 2017
Based on an innovative technology from Yale University which has shown promise to grow nerve fibers naturally and restore all facets of nerve function, a new company, ReNetX Bio (formerly known as Axerion Therapeutics), has been launched.
ReNetX Bio is focused on providing physicians with a novel treatment for central nervous system injuries. Its inaugural CEO is Erika Smith, a 25-year veteran investor and entrepreneur who has invested in, managed and successfully exited numerous seed and early-stage investments with funding from Yale and Johnson & Johnson. Most recently, Ms. Smith was director of the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale University.
The company also announced that it was seeking funding via a Series A financing to pay for its first clinical trial of its lead therapeutic candidate, Nogo Trap, in patients with chronic spinal cord injury.
The company wrote in its July 24, 2017 news release, “ReNetX licensed the rights of the innovative neuro-restorative Nogo Receptor platform technology discovered by Stephen Strittmatter, M.D., Ph.D., at Yale University and founder and scientific advisor to ReNetX. The central nervous system contains major extracellular factors that limit regrowth of neurons. The company has developed a decoy receptor, called Nogo Trap, that binds the growth inhibitors allowing the body to grow nerve fibers naturally and directly targeting restoration across all facets of growth: axonal regeneration (long distance), axonal sprouting (medium distance) and synaptic plasticity.”
“Spinal cord injury has been a condition so far resistant to treatment by a variety of therapeutic approaches,” said Dr. Strittmatter. “However, based on the research in my laboratory, we believe that we may have an approach that could benefit these patients. Nogo Trap has demonstrated improved neurologic function following central nervous system damage in several animal models. Based on these promising results, we now believe that Nogo Trap should be evaluated in chronic spinal cord injury patients.”
“Spinal cord injury is one of the most significant unmet medical needs with an annual cost of more than $5 billion per year,” said Smith. “A treatment that could mitigate even only a part of the condition could improve quality of life of these patients. When the funding is in place, we anticipate swift patient recruitment for our chronic spinal cord injury clinical trial. In the long-term, conditions beyond spinal cord injury including glaucoma and stroke.”
Erika Smith told OTW, “When the central nervous system (CNS) is injured—such as with paralysis in spinal cord injury—the neurons are unable to repair themselves unlike in the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Injury is permanent. The Nogo Trap is a scientific breakthrough in CNS to regrow neurons through the blocking of myelin inhibition factors. In other words—by trapping inhibition factors—the technology harnesses the body’s own ability to heal itself and restore neurons and function.”