Aspen Neuroscience recently received a $6.5 million seed round to advance technology that could replace lost brain cells in Parkinson’s patients.
The San Diego biotech was started by Jeanne Loring, the founding director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Scripps Research, and Andres Bratt-Leal, a former post-doctoral researcher in Loring’s lab.
Aspen strives to transplant pluripotent stem cells – which are programmed to repair the body – into Parkinson’s patients.
The process starts with taking a skin biopsy from the patient and then converting the tissue into stem cells via genetic engineering. The next step calls for turning some of the cells into dopamine-releasing neurons.
Those with Parkinson’s lack these neurons, causing debilitating motor issues.
Aspen is working on treatments for the two major types of Parkinson’s disease. Its lead candidate is finishing up preclinical studies, and with that, Aspen will ask for the OK to begin human clinical trials for sporadic Parkinson’s.
Aspen is also developing a gene-edited therapy for familial Parkinson’s.
Howard Federoff, former CEO of UCI Health System and who has co-founded several biotechs, is Aspen’s CEO.
The funding round was led by Domain Associates and Axon Ventures, with participation from Alexandria Venture Investments, Arch Venture Partners, OrbiMed and Section 32.