Veralox Therapeutics: Developing Improved Treatment Options
October 5, 2021 | Ashley Brindamour
The blood thinner Heparin is administered to about 12 million patients in the U.S. each year to prevent the formation of blood clots during surgical procedures. However, about 1% to 3% of those administered the drug develop Heparin‐induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), a potentially devastating adverse reaction caused by the emergence of antibodies that activate platelets. HIT is a life-threatening complication with a 25% to 30% mortality rate.
Founded by a trio of life science veterans, Alumni Ventures portfolio company Veralox Therapeutics is building a robust pipeline of therapeutics targeting 12-lipoxygenase (12-LOX), which is associated with the onset and progression of a range of serious diseases like HIT. The company’s lead candidate, VLX-1005, is a potent 12-LOX inhibitor developed to treat patients with HIT. In addition, VLX-1005’s expected use cases extend beyond HIT to various metabolic, oncological, and chronic diseases.
The Power of VLX-1005
Veralox’s VLX-1005 is aimed to be a safer and more effective treatment for HIT. Unlike current therapies that act downstream of the coagulation cascade (a physiological pathway that leads to the formation of blood clots), Veralox works both upstream and downstream of the cascade to inhibit pathogenesis as well as the manifestation of symptoms.VLX-1005 has already obtained FDA approval as an Investigational New Drug to initiate a Phase 1 clinical trial of VLX-1005 in HIT.
Additionally, in January 2021, the FDA granted an Orphan Drug designation for VLX-1005. This significant regulatory milestone provides Veralox with a seven-year exclusive period to market the drug (if approved for commercialization), ultimately strengthening pricing power and exempting Veralox from paying the prescription drug user fees to the FDA. If successful, VLX-1005 would be a “game-changer” in treating HIT, reducing morbidity/mortality rates, decreasing the risk of bleeding, and reducing the cost and complexity of hospital stays.
What We Liked About Veralox
Early Progress: Veralox’s preclinical data has shown that VLX-1005 is highly selective for 12-LOX. If successful, VLX-1005 will be one of the few, if not the only, safe and potent 12-LOX inhibitor on the market.
Potential pipeline: VLX-1005’s use cases are expected to extend beyond HIT. VLX-1005 has the potential to become a disease-modifying therapy for immune complex-mediated diseases, thrombosis, inflammatory responses, Type 1 & 2 Diabetes, and oncology.
Strong Team: Veralox was founded by a trio of life science veterans with over 20 years of experience in drug research, discovery, and development and significant entrepreneurial expertise in the biotech sector:
- Co-Founder and CEO Jeff Strovel is a second-time CEO with over 15 years of industry experience in research and development and a track record of establishing successful drug development programs.
- Co-Founder and CSO Dave Maloney has ten years of experience in drug discovery and development at the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).
- Co-Founder and COO Matt Boxer was at the preclinical innovation division at NCATS and served as the Vice President & Co-Head of Translational Medicine at Inspyr Therapeutics (IPO in ’09).
- CMO Michael Hanna led clinical trials for Eliquis, an anticoagulant drug, and took it to market with full FDA approval while working for Bristol-Myers Squibb.
How We Are Involved
Alumni Ventures invested in the company’s $16.6 million Series A led by Hatteras Venture Partners alongside Genesys Capital, Sanofi Ventures, T1D1, and The Universit of Chicago. AV’s investment was led by Lakeshore Ventures (for the UChicago community), with participation from Strawberry Creek Ventures (for the UC Berkeley community) and AV’s Deep Tech Fund.