Progress Regenerative Stroke Treatment - Swiss Biotech
The Swiss company NovaGo has raised €8.8M (CHF 10M) in Series A funding to develop one of the first therapies to help the nervous system regenerate after a stroke.
Novago develops antibodies that inhibit Nogo-A, a key molecule that stops nerve cells from growing new connections in the adult brain and spinal cord. This lets nerve cells form new circuitry, and could improve the recovery of patients after ischemic strokes, which are caused by blood clots.
Novago’s treatments are an unusual method for treating strokes as they don’t need to be administered immediately after the stroke. The only approved treatment at present, recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, breaks down blood clots causing the stroke — known as a thrombolytic treatment — and only works if given within a few hours of the stroke.
“Only a limited number of stroke victims, around 10%, are able to receive this drug and the mainstay of stroke treatment is rehabilitation therapy,” Eduardo Vianna, NovaGo’s CEO, told me. “Despite available thrombolytic treatment and rehabilitation therapy, more than 50% of ischemic stroke patients remain severely and permanently disabled.”
Many other stroke treatments in development, such as from the French company Acticor Biotech, are thrombolytic in nature. Other treatments aim to protect the nerve cells from stroke damage, with a phase III trial for one neuroprotective peptide currently in progress. These all, however, depend on getting the treatment to the patient in time and do not aim to repair neural damage.