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Bill Gates among investors as Cambridge Science Park-based Cerevance raises $45m to fight brain diseases

Bill Gates and GV have joined in a $45million Series B funding round for Cerevance, the pharmaceutical company with a Cambridge Science Park base.

The company said it will use the money to continue identifying novel therapeutic targets for central nervous system diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Mark Carlton, chief scientific officer of Cerevance
Mark Carlton, chief scientific officer of Cerevance

Dr Mark Carlton, chief scientific officer at Cerevance, told the Cambridge Independent: “The successful closure of our Series B financing provides a key validation of the groundbreaking work we are doing at our site at the Cambridge Science Park.

“Our ongoing study of more than 7,000 human brain tissue samples to identify novel targets for drug development holds the promise of delivering vitally needed treatments for a range of brain diseases.”

Foresite Capital, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and GV - formerly Google Ventures - were new investors, while all of Cerevance’s previous investors joined in, including the Dementia Discovery Fund, Lightstone Ventures and Takeda Ventures Inc, the corporate venture arm of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.

Brad Margus, CEO of Cerevance, said: “It’s hard to imagine a more stellar group of investors supporting us.

“We look forward to drawing on their expertise in deep data analysis and therapeutic development as we mine our unique biological data sets to advance new, desperately needed therapies for brain diseases.”

Cerevance applies a transcriptional and epigenetic profiling platform on specific neuronal and glial cell populations in thousands of post-mortem human brain tissue samples.

Brad Margus, CEO of Cerevance. Picture: Vance Jacobs 2016
Brad Margus, CEO of Cerevance. Picture: Vance Jacobs 2016

Scientists at the Cambridge Science Park site use this proprietary NETSseq platform to identify novel targets in the brain to treat central nervous system diseases, including neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases.

The team includes experts in neuroanatomy, molecular biology, in vitro biology, pharmacology, electrophysiology, animal models, medicinal chemistry, bioinformatics and machine learning.

A company spokesman explained: “As we advance drug discovery programs against newly-identified targets into preclinical studies, those activities are similarly co-ordinated by the team at Cambridge Science Park. Then, as programs move into clinical testing, those steps are primarily co-ordinated from the company’s site in Boston, Massachusetts.”

David Schenkein, general partner at GV, said: “Cerevance has a differentiated approach to neurotherapeutics and continues to apply its powerful NETSseq platform to central nervous system diseases.

“With exceptional science, a strong sense of urgency and a leadership team that has previously succeeded together in drug discovery, Cerevance is well-positioned to deliver life-changing therapeutics for patients with brain diseases.”

The company has partnered with 14 brain banks around the world to assemble its growing collection of clinically annotated, human brain tissue samples, which come from healthy and diseased donors spanning nine decades in age.

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