GRAND RAPIDS — In raising an additional $4.28 million in venture capital funding, Tetra Discovery Partners LLC plans to support the ongoing clinical trials for a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
The Grand Rapids- and Kalamazoo-based Tetra Discovery Partners netted the funding as part of a $7.27 million Series A venture round that CEO Mark Gurney expects will successfully conclude within the next three months.
“We’re confident we’ll complete this round,” Gurney said.
Tetra Discovery Partners recently provided an update on the fundraising round and equity offering through a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The amount raised so far came from nine investors, according to the filing. Lead investors include Apjohn Ventures LLC in Kalamazoo and Holland-based Grand Angels, Gurney said.
The company is presently involved in a Phase 1a clinical trial at MPI Research Inc.’s Jasper Clinic in Kalamazoo, testing the cognitive benefits of its drug compound on 67 people of various ages, Gurney said. As the trial continues, Tetra Discovery is preparing for a subsequent Phase 2a clinical trial at multiple sites in 2017 that will involve 180 people.
In preclinical testing on animals, Tetra Discovery Partners’ compound has shown promise in improving memory and slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Founded in 2011, Tetra Discovery Partners operates out of the business incubators GR Current in Grand Rapids and the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center in Kalamazoo. The company’s R&D has been funded by nearly $21 million in grants and contracts with the National Institutes of Health, plus private capital from investors that include Grand Angels, Muskegon Angels, Invest Michigan 2.0, the Biosciences Research & Commercialization Center in Kalamazoo, and the Johnson & Johnson Development Corp.
Tetra remains years away from the marketplace, if its compound proves effective. The company’s progress has been followed by a “variety of pharmaceutical companies that are actively interested in our program,” Gurney said.
“Their interest in partnering or investing is strong,” he said.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about 5 million Americans had Alzheimer’s in 2013. As the population ages, the CDC projects the Alzheimer’s incidence rate to grow to nearly 14 million by 2050.
Tetra is also developing a new drug that has shown potential to treat traumatic brain injury. In a NIH-funded pre-clinical trial, researchers at the University of Miami’s Traumatic Brain Injury Institute found that the Tetra’s compound, known as PDE4, reduced chronic cognitive deficits after traumatic brain injury.