Foundation Venture Capital Group Invests $1MM in NemaGen Discoveries, Inc.
NemaGen Discoveries, Inc., an early-stage therapeutics company and Rutgers University spinout, is the newest addition to Foundation Venture Capital Group’s (FVCG’s) portfolio. NemaGen is working to alleviate two chronic health conditions across the globe: asthma and allergic disease. In the United States alone, more than 50 million people experience various types of allergies each year and the annual cost is in the tens of billions of dollars. FVCG, an affiliate of the New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF), provided a $1MM seed investment towards helping NemaGen advance its technologies to combat these diseases.
Allergies are primarily driven by a type of white blood cell called mast cells, the specific cells that NemaGen is developing therapies to combat. In addition to the commonly known allergies and other allergic diseases such as hay fever, food allergies, and eczema, there are more severe diseases caused by these cells called mastocytosis and mast cell activation syndrome. These diseases are difficult to diagnose and extremely challenging to treat. Currently, patients fighting these diseases are suffering greatly from frequent anaphylaxis and take large numbers of pills that have very limited effectiveness. Further, current treatments fail to prevent these diseases and can only mitigate some of the symptoms.
Excitingly, discoveries made in Dr. Mark Siracusa’s laboratory have identified novel approaches to disrupt mast cell development completely. Professor Siracusa, NemaGen’s President, founded the company to pursue the development of therapies based on this work, some of which was supported by innovation grants provided by NJHF.
According to Dr. Siracusa, NemaGen’s lead programs have considerable biological validation. “Although we’ve known about mast cells for over 100 years, they have remained very challenging to study. By taking advantage of emerging technologies, we have been able to generate tools that, for the first time, allow us to study these cells at a very granular level. These advances have allowed us to uncover new and exciting therapeutic targets that can bring significant relief to patients”.
NemaGen’s goals of making a difference for suffering patients are synergistic with those of NJHF, whose mission is to is to promote the advancement of health-related research and education throughout the state of NJ. “The mission of NJHF and NemaGen are totally aligned – to improve the quality of life for suffering patients. We are excited that our funding will help to advance NemaGen’s research, which can potentially lead to the solution that these patients need. We look forward to working with Dr. Siracusa to successfully commercialize NemaGen’s technology” said George F. Heinrich, M.D., Vice Chair and CEO of NJHF and FVCG.
Dr. Siracusa described the company’s next steps and what FVCG’s funding allows the company to accomplish. “The partnership we have established with the NJHF has been invaluable. Not only did they recognize the clinical relevance of our work at a very early stage, but they also provided us with businessminded guidance and seed funding to progress our drug discovery programs. With their support, we can further advance our novel chemical compounds that possess exciting therapeutic potential.”
About Foundation Venture Capital Group
Foundation Venture Capital Group (FVCG) is a Princeton, New Jersey based organization that uses impact investing to provide pre-seed and seed funding to health-related start-up companies at their partner organizations to help them advance toward and through commercialization. FVCG is an affiliate of the New Jersey Health Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation that supports health-related research and education programs in New Jersey through its Research/Community Health and Social Service grant programs. A third funding program, the Innovation Grant program, funded through the Foundation for Health Advancement, provides grants to support early-stage university technologies with strong commercialization potential.