A San Diego firm that has $22 million worth of financial roots in the California stem cell agency this month snagged a bonus -- a ton of favorable attention for its efforts to treat Parkinson's disease.
The fledgling business is Aspen Neuroscience, Inc., which was co-founded by Jeanne Loring, professor emeritus at the Scripps Research Institute, and Andres Bratt-Leal, also formerly of Scripps.
Earlier this month, Aspen received $6.5 million in seed funding from Domain Associates and Axon Ventures. The announcement of the cash infusion triggered a spate of news articles.
In a piece on the Biocentury web site, writer Elizabeth Eaton quoted Kim Kamdar, a partner at Domain, as saying,
"Aspen is the only company taking an autologous approach to cell therapy for Parkinson's disease."
"Such (immunosuppression) treatment, which can last for a year or more to ensure a patient's immune system doesn't react to the transplant, can make patients more susceptible to viral diseases and cancer.
"While companies like BlueRock Therapeutics L.P. are exploring allogeneic treatments, Aspen was able to break into the autologous space thanks to its genomic tools, co-founder and CSO Jeanne Loring told BioCentury.
"Aspen is built on Loring's research at the Scripps Research Institute and the PluriTest, an assay she developed after discovering that pluripotent cells have a distinct genetic signature. The patented test shows whether a cell has achieved pluripotency, which allows researchers to avoid conducting more time-consuming confirmatory tests."Loring has received nearly $22 milllion from the state stem cell agency, formally known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), including $4.5 million as a co-PI. She told the California Stem Cell Report,
"All of my CIRM awards contributed to this project. We used those funds to develop our genomics tools and databases and to develop improved methods for handling the cells. The only specific CIRM grants supporting this project were DISC2-09073 and the progress award DISC2P-11595."Loring also credited Summit for Stem Cell Foundation of San Diego for supporting and financing her work as far back as 2011. Joining Domain in the $6.5 million in funding were Alexandria Venture Investments, Arch Venture Partners, OrbiMed Advisors and Section 32.
Here are links to additional stories on Aspen and the $6.5 million in funding: San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego Business Journal, Endpoints News, FierceBiotech, Xconomy, BioWorld, Parkinson's News Today and BioSpace.