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From left to right, David Prous, Jordi Fàbrega and Josep Prous, founders of the biotechnology company (Photo: Conecta Therapeutics).

Connecta Therapeutics settles in PCB and receives €1.97 million jointly with CRG and IMIM from the Spanish National Innovation Agency

Connecta Therapeutics –focused on development new treatments for unmet medical needs involving the central nervous system– has established its headquarters in the Barcelona Science Park. The biotech company has just received –jointly with the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM)– a grant for €1.97 million from the Spanish National Innovation Agency to develop an innovative treatment for fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common form of hereditary intellectual disability.

The grant earned by this public-private consortium comes from the call “Collaboration Challenges” R&D Projects 2019 –within the framework of the Spanish State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation– and aims to co-finance the development of the Connecta Therapeutics CTH120  molecule for fragile X syndrome (FXS) up to the start of the phase I clinical trial (scheduled for early 2022).

FXS is a hereditary genetic disorder linked to the X chromosome that causes intellectual disability and emotional and social problems, such as hyperactivity, anxiety, aggressive behaviours, and autism. FXS affects patients’ neuroplasticity, meaning their brain’s ability to recover and restructure on a molecular and cellular level. The syndrome is diagnosed in newborns or in childhood through DNA blood tests, but there is no specific treatment directed at the cause of the disease, only treatments that help relieve its symptoms.

Dr Rafael de la Torre (IMIM); Jordi Fàbrega (Connecta Therapeutics) and Dr Mara Dierssen (CRG). Photo: Connecta Therapeutics.

Dr Rafael de la Torre (IMIM); Jordi Fàbrega (Connecta Therapeutics) and Dr Mara Dierssen (CRG). Photo: Connecta Therapeutics.

Connecta Therapeutics will lead the project. According to Dr Josep Prous, the biotech’s co-founder and CSO,  “CTH120 is a first-in-class drug that will be able to address the disease based on an innovative strategy it is capable of modulating neuroplasticity, targeting the pathophysiological origin of fragile X syndrome”.

In the first phase, the Cellular Neurobiology and Integrated Systems group in the Systems Biology programme of the CRG led by Dr Mara Dierssen will conduct complementary pharmacology studies on Connecta Therapeutics CTH120 molecule. Dr Dierssen highlights the synergies between Connecta, the CRG and the IMIM: “This project brings together a multidisciplinary team of scientists and entrepreneurs with in-depth knowledge and experience in the neuropharmacology of intellectual disability with the goal of attaining a real scientific breakthrough to respond to the challenges society faces”.

Later, the IMIM coordinated by Dr Rafael de la Torre, director of the Neuroscience Research Programme and leader of the Integrative Pharmacology and Systems Neuroscience Research group, will start the Phase I clinical trial (expected for early 2022). “FXS is the leading cause of hereditary intellectual disability. Although there are different degrees of severity, the impact of the diagnosis causes a profound crisis in families” he comments.

New therapeutic targets for central nervous system diseases

Connecta Therapeutics was founded in 2019 by Prous Institute for Biomedical Research, Josep Prous, David Prous and Jordi Fàbrega to develop new treatments for unmet medical needs involving the central nervous system.

The biotechnology company is initially focused on developing the CTH120 molecule, a first-in-class drug to treat fragile X síndrome. CTH120 was designed after the study of more than 30 molecular and cellular targets for neuroplasticity. The molecule has been proven, in in vitro tests and in vivo in animal models, to be an excellent neuroplasticity modulator with a great extension profile for other neurodevelopmental disorders (Rett syndrome, Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorders, among others).

At the end of September 2020, Connecta Therapeutics closed a 1.7 million Euro round of investment led by the venture capital company Inveready. The round also featured the  Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) –through its Innvierte programme– and the company’s co-founders.

“With the opening of our headquarters in the Barcelona Science Park, the project is established in an ideal ecosystem due to its progress, close to research, innovation centers and startups like us. In fact, we know the Park very well, since our molecule was born here at the Prous Institute for Biomedical Research facilities ”, explains Jordi Fàbrega, CEO of Connecta Therapeutics.

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