05 Jun Mithridion, Cognitive Pharmaceuticals to merge
Madison, Wis. – Two drug discovery and development companies focused on developing therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and central nervous disorders have decided to merge as the drug candidate of one company is about to enter clinical trials.
Mithridion, a biotechnology company based at Madison’s University Research Park, and Cognitive Pharmaceuticals of Toledo, Ohio, also announced the closing of a funding round that raised $2.3 million in staged venture financing. The funding, which was led by Venture Investors of Madison and Ann Arbor, Mich., follows a previous funding round that raised $2.2 million.
Mithridion will be the surviving entity and will maintain its headquarters and preclinical drug research laboratories in Madison, and it will have early drug discovery and clinical drug development operations in Toledo, where the lead compound was developed.
Mithridion expects to start clinical trails of the merged company’s first Alzheimer’s drug candidate, MCD-386, which is designed to slow down the disease process. MCD-386 was developed with technology from the laboratories of professor William Messer, Jr., of the University of Toledo’s College of Pharmacy and the merged companies have an exclusive global license from the university to develop it.
Mithridion had been developing its own drug compound, but now it will concentrate on MCD-386, said John Neis, co-founder and managing director of Venture Investors.
“Mithridion will put its principle focus on the [Cognitive Pharmaceuticals] compound because it is closer to the clinic,” Neis said.
Trevor Twose will continue to serve as the chief executive officer of Mithridion, and Paul Weiss, a managing director of Venture Investors, will remain a director on the Mithridion board.
The companies confirmed that all current employees in both Madison and Toledo would be retained. With the completion of the merger, Mithridion said it has has 10 employees and 15 consultants.
Twose said in a statement released by the company that the merger and new venture funding is a big step toward developing “greatly-needed” Alzheimer’s drugs.
Weiss said the merger is complementary in that Cognitive has developed a promising molecule that is ready for clinical trials, while Mithridion has state-of-the-art infrastructure for drug development.
Joining Venture Investors in the latest funding round were the State of Wisconsin Investment Board and Wisconsin Investment Partners of Madison. Wisconsin Investment Partners, an angel group, is an existing investor in Mithridion.
As a result of the merger, the University of Toledo will be a shareholder in Mithridion.
Three senior executives at Cognitive will assume executive roles in the merged company, including CEO Wayne Hoss, who will join the board of directors of Mithridion and be in charge of the Toledo operations.
The two companies were brought together by Jim Adox in Venture Investors’ Ann Arbor office, which is not far from Toledo.
“I think each company saw some really synergistic capabilities,” Neis said. “Cognitive had some exciting compounds that offered tremendous potential, but they recognized they didn’t have all the experience sets to lead the compound forward.
“Mithridion saw a compound that was closer to the clinic.”
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