Carlsbad, Calif.-based Invitrogen Corporation (IVGN) on February 15 announced it has joined other investors in taking a minority position in Q Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pursuing developing cell therapies for central nervous system diseases and disorders.
The Invitrogen investment was part of the first tranche of Q’s $15 million Series B financing, led by vSpring Capital.
Other investors include Epic Ventures (formerly Wasatch Venture Fund), Toucan Capital, University of Utah Research Foundation, Salt Lake Life Science Angels and Q management.
“We are very pleased with the progress made by Q since our initial investment,” said Dinesh Patel, Ph.D., managing director of vSpring Capital. “Q has the right combination of excellent science and a strong management team to advance its cell-based therapies and bring these important products to clinical development.”
Initial disease targets include multiple sclerosis (MS), transverse myelitis and Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS).
The company obtains purified populations of differentiated CNS cells, cultures and grows them, and injects them into the patient.
The cells then recreate the insulation around the neuronal axons, allowing for proper signal conduction and improved neuronal function.
Clinical trials for TM are anticipated at Johns Hopkins University in 2009.
“Part of Invitrogen’s two-pronged strategy is to invest in growth areas such as the promising field of cell therapy,” said Invitrogen’s Paul Grossman. “By investing early in a company such as Q Therapeutics, we can increase our learning around the types of tools such companies need, which will not only allow us to maximize our technology portfolio, but also help us move the field more quickly toward groundbreaking therapies.”
“Q is dedicated to developing products for treating neurodegenerative diseases. Our initial product, Q-Cells, is a cellular therapy using neural glial cells that we believe will provide the fastest route to restoring function in patients with demyelinating diseases and certain other neurodegenerative diseases,” said Q CEO Deborah Eppstein, Ph.D. “Invitrogen’s investment will help accelerate our efforts to bring safe, effective and affordable treatments to the clinic for these extremely debilitating conditions.”
vSpring Capital targets information technology and life sciences companies headquartered in the Intermountain West region with the potential to transform their markets and create lasting value. Invitrogen provides life science technologies for disease research, drug discovery, and commercial bioproduction.
Epic Ventures has invested in more than 80 early-stage companies, with 18 profitable exits including 4 IPOs.
Toucan Capital Fund II, L.P. is a $120 million venture capital fund specializing in seed and early-stage life science investments.
Q Therapeutics (Salt Lake City, Utah) focuses on diseases where the protective insulating myelin sheath around neurons has been destroyed by disease or injury, resulting in poor signal conduction, and on neurodegenerative diseases causing neuronal death.
Q has exclusive rights to 16 patents arising out of work done by Mahendra Rao, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Utah and NIH, and is developing products to treat debilitating diseases of the central nervous system