QurAlis Spins out Med Device Company EnClear to Target ALS
By Alex Keown
EnClear Therapies, a new medical device company spun out from QurAlis, will focus its developmental programs on targeting neurological diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).
EnClear’s devices have a goal of continuously clearing toxic proteins from cerebrospinal fluids to treat these diseases. With its devices, EnClear said its mission is to halt the progression of the diseases with its devices and extend the lives of patients with ALS and PSP. The company plans to do so by removing the toxic proteins that build up in the brain and spinal cord, significantly impacting neurodegeneration.
Parent company QurAlis is developing three therapeutics targeting subsets of ALS. The company is developing treatments that include: a transformative device to remove toxic proteins; a drug that mediates overactive neurons and prevents them from dying; and a drug that restores a dysfunctional waste clearance system in cells.
Kasper Roet, chief executive officer of QurAlis and Co-Founder of EnClear, said that during the discovery process of causative gene mutations in ALS, company researchers realized that “some of the mutated proteins transcribed from these genes cause not only loss of function issues but that the mutations make them in fact specifically toxic and that this toxicity spreads through the brain and spinal cord causing neuronal death.” When looking at ways to clear the toxic proteins, Roet said the company decided that a device that continuously circulates the cerebrospinal fluids would filter those proteins.
“This device is the basis for the formation of EnClear and will hopefully be able to help not only ALS patients but also patients with many other neurological diseases,” Roet said.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons in the brain and the spinal cord. The disease is usually fatal within two to five years of diagnosis. Patients with ALS eventually lose the ability to control muscle movement, which eventually leads to total paralysis and then death. Currently, there is no known cure for the disease, but multiple companies are working on treatments, hoping to be the first to provide a viable option for patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 12,000 to 15,000 Americans have ALS, with about 5,000 to 6,000 diagnosed annually.
The new company will be helmed by Anthony R. DePasqua, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the medical device industry. EnClear will be located at LabCentral’s Kendall Square laboratory facility in Cambridge. Mass. William B. Gormley, director of the Neurosurgical Critical Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will serve as the company’s chief medical officer. Gormley is also a cofounder of the company.
EnClear CEO DePasqua, also a company co-founder, noted that patients who have been diagnosed with ALS have few therapeutic options. Not only is the disease a virtual death sentence, but it is also costly to treat, which creates financial burdens on families and society, DePasqua said.
“Our understanding of these diseases has improved exponentially in recent years thanks to the identification and study of the human genome and related biology. QurAlis has been at the forefront of these new discoveries and EnClear has been spun out to create therapeutic devices based on this knowledge,” DePasqua said in a statement. “A device that can continually access CSF and clear it of toxic proteins has the potential to help numerous patient populations in a safe and effective manner.”
Although EnClear has just launched, the company will present at the Biotech Showcase 2019 conference in San Francisco next month.