Regenacy Pharma announced the closing of a $30 million Series A financing to advance the development of ricolinostat, an oral, selective histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) inhibitor, for use in treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). The financing was co-led by Cobro Ventures and Taiwania Capital Management Corporation, with participation from 3E Bioventures Capital, Yonjin Capital, VIVA Biotech Holdings, TA YA VENTURE HOLDINGS LIMITED, and other undisclosed private investors.
Celgene and Acetylon Pharmaceuticals entered into an agreement in December of 2016 whereby Celgene agreed to acquire a portion of the assets of Acetylon, and the remainder were spun into a new entity, Regenacy Pharmaceuticals. As part of the deal, Celgene received partial rights to two drug candidates developed by Acetylon: citarinostat (ACY-241), and ricolinostat (ACY-1215). Specifically, Celgene received worldwide rights to develop both drugs for cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and autoimmune diseases. Regenacy has partial rights to these two drugs, but only for other disease types, such as nerve pain. It also has access to other preclinical drugs Acetylon has been developing for blood diseases like sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia.
In prior Phase 1 and 2 clinical studies, ricolinostat has demonstrated an excellent safety and tolerability profile. Ricolinostat will also be evaluated as a potential treatment for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) Type 2.
“We are fortunate to have the strong support of investors aligned with our mission to provide lasting relief of all symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy,” said Simon Jones, Ph.D., Regenacy’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our preclinical studies demonstrate that selectively inhibiting HDAC6 has the potential to safely restore nerve function in multiple peripheral neuropathies, and we are looking forward to advancing our lead program into Phase 2 studies this year.”
Ricolinostat is an oral, selective histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) inhibitor. It has the potential to become the first-in-class treatment that reverses the underlying peripheral neuropathy, thereby relieving pain, numbness, motor function loss, and all other symptoms of the disease. Ricolinostat restores nerve function by inhibiting HDAC6, which reestablishes the transport function of microtubules in the axon of the nerve cell. A functioning microtubule transport system is the key to restoring nerve function because nerves rely on this network to supply the energy and nutrients necessary to maintain the nerve signaling in the ends of the nerves in the skin and muscles of the feet and hands. When this transport is disrupted by a disease like diabetes or neurotoxic drugs used in chemotherapy, nerve cells can malfunction and send random signals (pain, tingling, muscle spasms) or no signal at all (numbness, paralysis).