Providence, R.I., June 28, 2010 – The Slater Technology Fund today announced that it has committed seed funding to launch Mnemosyne Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Providence-based drug discovery venture aiming to develop small molecule therapeutics to treat schizophrenia and other cognitive and neuropsychiatric disorders. Initial funding will support the founders in recruiting a world-class scientific advisory board, in prosecuting initial patent filings, and in corporate/business development and fund-raising.
Mnemosyne is developing a research platform targeting NMDA receptor function, one of the most impactful signaling mechanisms in the brain. The company plans to develop different therapeutic treatments for a range of cognitive and emotional disorders.
The company’s lead discovery program involves a novel class of molecules as therapy for schizophrenia. Current drug treatments for schizophrenia address the so-called positive or psychotic symptoms of the condition; however, they have limited efficacy in treating the chronic negative symptoms such as withdrawal and the cognitive dysfunction that are most closely linked to poor patient outcome. NMDA receptor signaling deficiencies are a key factor underlying the full spectrum of symptoms in schizophrenia, particularly the cognitive dysfunction. Mnemosyne’s strategy looks to correct this deficiency, significantly improving upon available therapies for schizophrenia to better treat the significant unmet medical needs of this patient group. In 2010, the pharmaceutical industry is expected to report sales in excess of $25 billion for drugs currently used to treat schizophrenia.
The founding team brings together veteran CNS drug discovery scientists and longtime collaborators Frank Menniti, Ph.D., and Bert Chenard, Ph.D. with CEO Kollol Pal, Ph.D., collectively comprising over 70 years of research and management experience in pharmaceuticals and biotech. Dr. Menniti, who will serve as chief scientific officer, is widely-recognized for his work in the fields of glutamate receptor pharmacology and treatments for neurodegenerative and psychiatric disease. From 1992 through 2009, he was with Pfizer Global Research and Development in Groton, CT. Dr. Chenard, Mnemosyne’s executive vice president of research, is a medicinal chemist with extensive experience in ion channel and GPCR research. From 1986 through 2001, he was with Pfizer Global Research and Development in Groton, CT, and from 2001 through 2008, he directed the Medicinal and Process Chemistry Departments at Neurogen Corp. in Branford, CT, most recently as senior vice president. Together, they were among the pioneers in developing groundbreaking NMDA receptor pharmacology in the 1990s. Dr. Pal, Mnemosyne’s chief executive officer, has over 20 years experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, most recently as co-founder and CEO of Satori Pharmaceuticals and Rishi Pharmaceuticals, both venture-backed drug discovery ventures based in Cambridge, MA.
Mnemosyne is in process of assembling a world-class advisory board of neuroscientists and psychiatrists affiliated with leading research institutions in the field of NMDA receptor function and neuropsychiatric disease. Joining this group is Peter Snyder, Ph.D., Professor of Neurology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Vice President for Research at the Lifespan health system and its partner hospitals in Providence, RI. From 1999 through 2005, Dr. Snyder was with Pfizer Global Research and Development in Groton, CT, where he collaborated with Drs. Menniti and Chenard.
Dr. Snyder praised Slater for its commitment in support of the launch of Mnemosyne, stating “There is a tremendous need for new drugs that address unmet medical needs in the neuropsychiatric field. It presents an ideal opportunity for researchers and clinicians within our own community to attract and support scientists and entrepreneurs with the background and experience of Mnemosyne’s founding team. In this respect, it represents a compelling model for similar life science startups committed to basing and building their businesses in Rhode Island.”
“The Slater Fund has proven a critical, catalytic resource in support of our efforts to launch the new venture,” stated Kollol Pal, chief executive officer of Mnemosyne. “We are excited to be part of the knowledge-based economy which has become central to RI’s economic development strategy, and we look forward to capitalizing upon the opportunities it presents.”
“While inception stage, Mnemosyne represents a venture with great expectations,” stated Richard G. Horan, senior managing director at the Slater Technology Fund. “Our goal is to build a world-class drug discovery organization, drawing upon distinct competencies in basic and clinical neuroscience here in our own community while at the same time drawing upon the talent readily available in the region, both from the pharmaceutical as well as biotech industries both to the north and south.”
About Slater Technology Fund
The Slater Technology Fund is a state-backed venture capital fund that invests in new ventures committed to basing and building their businesses in Rhode Island. Slater focuses its resources on the support of entrepreneurs who have the vision, leadership and commitment to build substantial commercial enterprises. Slater typically invests at the inception stage in the development of a new venture, often based upon ideas and technologies originating in academic institutions and/or government research laboratories located within the region. In most cases, investments are premised upon the possibility of raising substantial follow-on financing, from venture capital investors or from strategic partners, with a view toward accelerating the generation of significant numbers of high-value, high-wage jobs over the intermediate to longer-term. For more information, visit www.slaterfund.com.